As we enter the holiday season, we hope that you’re able to spend quality time with your loved ones, whether it be in-person or via Zoom. November is National Gratitude Month, and we at Mullen and Filippi are grateful for the contributions of each of you. We wish you a very happy and safe holiday season.
DWC ANNOUNCES TEMPORARY TOTAL DISABLITY RATE CHANGE FOR 2022
On September 23, 2021, the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) withdrew its announcement that the 2022 minimum and maximum TTD rates would remain unchanged based on a finding that the State Average Weekly Wage data, which is posted by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), was preliminary and incomplete. More recently, the complete data was posted by the DOL.
On October 25, 2021, the DWC announced that the 2022 minimum and maximum Temporary Total Disability (TTD) indemnity rates will increase on January 1, 2022. The minimum weekly TTD rate will increase from $203.44 to $230.95, and the maximum weekly TTD rate will increase from $1,356.31 to $1,539.71.
This means that as of January 1, 2022, if a maximum rate injured worker were to collect the full statutory 104 weeks of TTD available pursuant to Labor Code Section 4656, he or she would collect $160,129.84 in benefits.
Pursuant to Labor Code Section 4453(a)(10), State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) shall be increased by an amount equal to the percentage of increase in the state average weekly wage as compared to the prior year. SAWW is the average weekly wage paid by employers to employees covered by unemployment insurance as reported by the United States Department of Labor for California in the 12 months ending on March 31 of the calendar year preceding the year in which the injury occurred.
In the 12-month period ending on March 31, 2021, the SAWW increased from $1,383 to $1,570, which is an increase of 13.5213 percent.
COVID-19 CLAIMS CONTINUE TO FALL RELATIVE TO STATEWIDE INFECTIONS
According to recent data from the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Bureau, workers’ compensation claims in relationship to statewide infections for COVID-19 fell dramatically, from 10% in early 2020 to less than 2% through most of 2021. In the first four months of the pandemic, there were approximately 25,500 workers’ compensation claims for COVID-19 relative to approximately 233,000 statewide infections, which equates to a ratio of about 1 in 10. Since March 2021, there were approximately 13,900 workers’ compensation claims for COVID-19 in comparison to 767,000 total infections. Thus, the ratio of workers’ compensation claims to statewide infections fell to approximately 1 in 50.
Interestingly, approximately 43% of COVID-19 claims were reported against self-insured employers, whereas only about one-third of non-COVID-19 claims are reported against self-insured employers, according to the WCIRB.
The WCIRB also reported that of the 1,056 death claims filed because of COVID-19, 858 occurred in 2020, whereas 198 occurred in 2021. However, COVID-19 death claims are often reported late and the death totals for 2021 will likely increase.
According to the WCIRB, the healthcare sector was hit particularly hard. About 49% of all indemnity claims came from workers in the health care sector. The public administration sector had the second-highest percentage, at 34% of all indemnity claims.
NEW CASE BRIEF AVAILABLE
This month, Nicol Harper, an associate attorney in our Riverside office, authored an excellent article titled “When the walls come tumblin’ down” – The Case of Applied Materials and the Effect of Treater Misconduct. In her case brief, Ms. Harper provides a comprehensive summary and assessment of the recent Applied Materials decision, in which the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Appellate District found an injured worker’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from a sexual relationship with her primary treating physician to be a compensable consequence of her industrial injuries.
This Bulletin was written by Steve Rosendin, Associate Partner in our San Francisco office. A copy of this Bulletin and the most current twelve months is available on our website at www.mulfil.com/bulletins.