Workers’ Compensation: what is the ‘compensation rate,’ and why is it important?


The South Carolina workers’ compensation system is set up in a way that benefits are paid by the week.  This is true when a worker is injured and has to miss seven or more consecutive days and receives weekly checks, when a final award is paid for injury to a particular body part (based upon how many weeks that body part is worth under the Workers Compensation Act), or when a worker is permanently and totally disabled – at which point there is a limit of 500 weeks of benefits (minus any benefits already paid by the week).  To arrive at the value for any of these payments, one must multiply the number of weeks at issue by the compensation rate.  In general terms, the compensation rate is two-thirds (.6667) of a worker’s average weekly wage.  Obviously, the higher the compensation rate, the more valuable a particular injury becomes.  For example:

  • Worker X injures his arm and receives 10% disability for that injury at a hearing.
  • In South Carolina, the arm is worth 220 weeks of benefits.
  • 10% of 220 is 22.
  • If Worker X has a compensation rate of $200, his claim is worth $4,400.00 (22 x $200).
  • If Worker X has a compensation rate of $400, his claim is worth $8,800.00 (22 x $400).

For this reason, it is important to ensure that the compensation rate used in a given case is accurate.  This can be complicated because there may be different issues that come into play in determining the average weekly wage on which the compensation rate is based.  Such things may include whether a worker was also doing other paying work in addition to the job on which he or she was injured (e.g., second jobs, side-jobs, side-businesses, moonlighting, etc.), recent raises/promotions, number of weeks actually worked, etc.  These things (and others) can impact how average weekly wages are calculated, which in turn dictates the value of the compensation rate.  

In every instance there is a maximum compensation rate in South Carolina, meaning that regardless of how much money you make, you can only use up to a certain figure as the compensation rate to calculate values under workers compensation.  The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission recently approved the maximum weekly compensation rate of $903.40 for injuries arising on and after January 1, 2021.  This means that whether you make $1,500.00 per week or $15,000.00 per week, you are limited to a compensation rate of $903.40 for injuries occurring in 2021.  There are different maximum compensation rates for the years preceding 2021 that apply to injuries occurring in those years.

Again, determining the appropriate compensation rate is very important and can be complex.  This is yet another way in which an attorney can make a significant difference in helping injured workers get all the compensation to which they are entitled.  Give me a call to discuss all your workers’ compensation questions and allow us to put our experience to work for you if you’ve been injured at work.

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Attorney Jeremy Dantin

Blog post by attorney Jeremy Dantin. Click here to learn more about Jeremy.

The posts on this website/blog are published as a service to our clients and friends. They are intended to provide general information only and should not be construed to be formal legal advice regarding any specific situation and should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. Success in the past does not indicate the likelihood of success in any future representation.

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