By H. Allan Hunt
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Additional info for Adequacy Of Earnings Replacement In Workers' Compensation Programs: A Report Of The Study Panel On Benefit Adequacy Of The Workers' Compensation Steering Committee
The Model Act (Revised) also provides that all types of cash benefits should be subject to a maximum weekly benefit that (since 1981) is 200 percent of the state’s average weekly wage. The essence of this evolution of the Model Act published by the Council of State Governments is that the latest version recommends 32 Alternative Meanings of Benefit Adequacy that cash benefits be two-thirds of earnings losses for total disability and for partial disability based on loss of earning capacity. For scheduled PPD benefits, the Model Act (Revised) maintains weekly benefits as 55 percent of preinjury wages, although states are given the option of adopting two-thirds of preinjury wages for scheduled benefits to be consistent with the other types of cash benefits.
However, we take our guidance from the majority of states, which declare that in cases of temporary total disability, two-thirds of gross pretax lost wages should be replaced, subject to maximum and minimum benefit levels. For the purposes of this analysis we use a replacement rate of two-thirds of gross wages as the standard of benefit adequacy. Measuring Losses: Conceptual Issues To measure wage replacement, we need to determine the amount of injury-related losses and compare the losses to workers’ compensation benefits received.
On the other hand, scheduled benefits that pay a fixed number of weeks regardless of work status may exceed adequate compensation. Both provisions place ease of administration over adequacy considerations in policy design. Also, using two-thirds of gross earnings to approximate post-tax income does not take individual differences in tax status into account. The more recent trend in workers’ compensation programs of using spendable earnings as the benefit base addresses this problem but does not resolve it completely.
Adequacy Of Earnings Replacement In Workers' Compensation Programs: A Report Of The Study Panel On Benefit Adequacy Of The Workers' Compensation Steering Committee by H. Allan Hunt