How Much Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Pennsylvania?

Workers’ compensation benefits are fixed by state law.

A work injury can cause major disruptions to your life—not only your health, but also to your career, finances, and overall well-being. The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system is designed to compensate you for some of those losses and get you back to work as soon as possible. However, worker’s comp also limits the amount of money you can receive from your employer. This article explains the types and amounts of benefits that are available through workers’ comp. (To get these benefits, you will need to file a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim.)

Total Disability Benefits

Pennsylvania pays wage loss benefits to workers who need more than seven days off work due to their injuries. The first seven days of disability are not paid. However, if you end up missing more than 14 days off work, the first seven days will be paid retroactively.

Total disability benefits are two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but cannot exceed a maximum amount set by law each year. As of January 1, 2019, the maximum benefit is $1,049 per week. The minimum benefit is either 90% of the worker’s average weekly wage or 50% of the statewide average weekly wage, whichever is less. (The cap is updated annually in January; you can find a list of the maximums and minimums at the website of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.)

These benefits are paid until you reach maximum medical improvement or until 104 weeks has passed. At that point, the insurance company can require you to undergo a medical examination. If you receive a disability rating of 50% or higher, you will continue to receive total disability benefits for life. However, it’s rare to receive such a high disability rating.

Partial Disability Benefits

Partial disability benefits are paid if you’re able to return to work but are earning less than you normally do or if you receive a disability rating of less than 50%. These benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your wages before the injury and what you’re able to earn after the injury. The same minimum and maximums apply as for total disability benefits. These payments will end once you’re able to earn your normal wages or after 500 weeks of disability payments (including total disability), whichever comes first.

Specific Loss Awards

A scheduled loss of use award is available for disabilities of certain body parts—such as the eyes, ears, arms, legs, hands, or feet—as well as for serious disfigurement of the head, face, or neck. The award is paid at two-thirds of your average weekly wages, for a number of weeks determined by a state schedule. For example, the schedule lists a total loss of use of an arm at 410 weeks. If you have only a 50% loss of use of the arm, you would receive 205 weeks of payments. Temporary disability payments that you have already received are deducted from your award.

Additional Benefits

Pennsylvania workers’ compensation also provides additional benefits, including:

  • Medical benefits. Workers’ comp pays for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to a work injury, as long as your treatment is authorized. (For more information, see our article on how to get medical treatment through workers’ comp.)
  • Mileage reimbursement. Mileage for travel to and from doctors’ appointments may also be covered through workers’ comp.
  • Vocational rehabilitation. A worker who is unable to return to his or her normal job can receive placement services and other help trying to find new employment.
  • Death Benefits. A worker’s spouse, children, or other dependents can receive death benefits when the worker passes away due to a work injury. The amount is determined by the number and type of dependents claiming benefits.
  • Funeral expenses. A worker’s family members can receive up to $3,000 in funeral and burial expenses for a deceased worker.

Limitations of Workers’ Comp Benefits

As you can see, workers’ compensation only pays of a portion of your lost wages. Workers’ comp also does not pay anything for the pain and suffering caused by your injury. While this may seem unfair, it is part of the trade-off that is the workers’ comp system. The advantage of workers’ comp is that you can get benefits relatively quickly without needing to file a lawsuit or prove that your employer was at fault for causing your injury. The downside is that you can’t get the full value of your losses. (However, in some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover pain and suffering and other losses. To learn more, see our article on suing outside of the workers’ comp system.)

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