If your injury prevents you from working, you may qualify for lost-wage compensation. The amount of money you receive is based on the severity of your injury. In most cases it is a percentage of your average weekly wage (AWW), which is usually based on the wages you earned during the four quarters (3-month periods) prior to your accident, not including the quarter in which the accident occurred.
Lost-wage compensation is subject to a seven-day waiting period. This means that for the first seven calendar days of your claim, you will not be paid immediately. If you are out of work for more than 14 calendar days (not counting the date of injury), you will then be paid for the seven-day waiting period. Wage benefits are paid every other week.
Keep in mind that there is a maximum weekly benefit mandated by the state. This number depends on your date of accident and changes periodically, so check with your adjustor.
Below are the most common types of wage benefits and the methods used to calculate them. If your claim is classified in one of the categories below, your benefits will be paid as described. Because the workers’ comp law provides for many different scenarios, this is not an all-inclusive list. Depending on your situation, your claim may provide you with different benefits.
Temporary Total Disability
This means you are completely disabled, but are expected to fully recover and return to work. In this instance, you will receive 66⅔ percent of your AWW. You may receive benefits in this category for up to 500 weeks.
Temporary Partial Disability
In this case, you are still limited by your injury, but are able to work in some capacity. If you return to work, but, your new job pays less than your previous one, you are entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. You will be paid 66⅔ percent of the difference between your AWW before your injury and your AWW after your injury. Temporary partial disability benefits may be paid for a maximum of 340 weeks.
Permanent Partial Disability
Normally, permanent partial disability means that you are permanently disabled, but still able to return to work in some capacity. The benefits you receive are based on the severity of your injury. South Carolina law lists dozens of different types of injuries, and specifies the benefit for that injury, in terms of the number of weeks of compensation due. For example, a worker who loses a thumb is entitled to 65 weeks of compensation, at the normal rate of 66 ⅔ percent of the AWW. If that worker had lost only partial use of his thumb, the benefit would be reduced, based on the percentage of use that was lost, as defined by the worker’s physician.
Permanent Total Disability
This means that you are completely disabled as defined by state statute and are not able to return to work in any capacity. In this case, workers’ comp will normally pay you 66⅔ percent of your AWW for up to 500 weeks, after deducting compensation benefits already paid before your injury was classified as permanent and total.
If a worker dies as a result of a work-related accident, dependents may receive workers’ comp benefits. Normally, these dependents will receive 66 ⅔ percent of the deceased workers’ AWW for up to 500 weeks. If there is more than one dependent, state law defines how benefits should be divided. A one-time payment up to $2,500 may be available for funeral expenses. Summit claims adjustors specially trained in these types of claims will work with the employer to determine what benefits are due.