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Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld

Relentlessly Protecting California Workers' Rights Since 1956

Understanding the Average Weekly Wage Calculation in California Workers' Compensation

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At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our Santa Barbara workers’ compensation attorneys understand most employees know California employers must provide workers’ compensation benefits to their workers. This includes employers with one or more employees, regardless of whether they work full-time or part-time.

What is less clear to most workers is what benefits to expect from their employer’s insurance provider when they get hurt on the job.

California workers’ compensation benefits are designed to provide medical treatment for work-related injuries, wage replacement for temporary disability or permanent disability benefits, depending on the extent of the injuries, and retraining or job displacement benefits.

The question becomes, how do injured employees get paid for their time away from work because of their injuries? We have answers.

An Injured Employee’s Average Weekly Wage is the Basis for Paying Temporary Total Disability Benefits in California

The average weekly wage (AWW) is the basis for paying Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits in California.

Understanding the calculation of the AWW is crucial in California workers’ compensation cases, as it determines the amount of wage replacement benefits an injured worker is entitled to receive, which provides financial support when an injured worker is unable to work due to a work-related injury or illness.

Determining the AWW can be complex, especially if there are irregularities in an employee’s work schedule or income. Still, it is typically two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wages at the time of the injury. There are also maximum and minimum rate requirements.

Am employee’s Average Weekly Wage = Total Eligible Earnings in Base Period / Number of Weeks in Base Period:

  • Add only the income earned through employment, including wages, salaries, overtime pay, bonuses, commissions, and other forms of compensation directly related to work for 52 weeks. The calculation does not include investments, rental properties, and other non-employment sources.
  • Divide the income total by the base period. In California, the base period typically consists of 52 weeks (one year) immediately preceding the date of the work-related injury.

Adjustments may be made if the employee did not work for the entire base period. For example, if the employee worked for only 26 weeks, the AWW would be calculated based on those 26 weeks.

Is There a Minimum and Maximum Temporary Disability Benefits AWW in California?

California has maximum and minimum weekly benefit amounts for temporary disability benefits. The AWW cannot exceed the maximum benefit amount or fall below the minimum benefit amount, a statutory minimum set by the state.

On January 1, 2023:

  • The minimum TTD rate in California increased from $230.95 to $242.86 per week.
  • The maximum TTD rate in California increased from $1,539.71 to $1,619.15 per week.

It is important to note that California’s workers’ compensation system is subject to periodic adjustments and regulation changes. Therefore, injured workers and employers must stay informed about the most up-to-date rules and guidelines regarding AWW calculations.

If you have been injured at work and are receiving resistance to obtaining benefits from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider, contact our skilled California workers’ compensation attorneys today for help.

We have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California. We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs.

Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the average week wage replacement benefits you need to regain control of your life. 

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