I’m Charles Wilmer, Jr. of The Wilmer Law Firm. We’re here to talk some more about workers’ compensation claims in Arizona, and specifically we’re going to talk today about the average monthly wage determination.
The average monthly wage determination is very important, and it’s important for an injured worker to make sure it’s set properly at the beginning of the claim, because all the compensation, all the money benefits you ever receive in the case are going to be based around this number. If it’s set low, that means that the benefits you receive are going to be lower than they maybe if you can get average monthly wage set at a higher rate.
Frequently, when people come to see me and they’ve had a case that’s been going on for a year or two without a lawyer, a lot of the times the average monthly wage calculations were incorrectly set through the workers disadvantage. Usually at that time it’s too late to do anything about it, because the protest period on the notice has run. We’re going to talk a little bit about some of the things you want to look for when the notice is sent out and what to do if you feel that the average monthly wage has been set to low in your case.
When the Notice of Claim Status is issued in a worker’s case, and it’s a case with a missing time from work and entitled the compensation benefits, then the carrier will check box number 4 on the Notice of Claim Status, and also issue or include within that form, as you can see on the video here, what they think the estimate is of the average monthly wage. We talked more about the Notice of Claim Status in a prior video, and I’d urge you to look at that and you can come back to this one to pick up on this more detailed information.
Essentially, the average monthly wage is typically the wage that the injured worker earns 30 days before the date of their injury. It’s based on gross wages, not the net wage after any deduction. It’s the full gross wage that the injured worker receives. The carrier needs to set forth the amount in the Notice of Claim Status and then they need to also prepare the recommended average monthly wage calculation sheet. This all gets submitted to the Industrial Commission of Arizona.
The recommended wage calculation goes over several different topics, including how much money the injured worker was being paid by the hour, how many hours they were typically working, if there are any changes in pay rates, if there was information about job pay increases, they also talk about if there were other employment. This is really important, when you get this form, you want to look at it and see what information is on it because if you’re working, you have two jobs, they have to include the wages from your other job as part of this calculation and that can have a significant impact on the amount of the average monthly wage.
Sometimes people have temporary job, where they get hurt and they’re maybe only working 10 hours a week, but then they have another job that’s full-time and they made substantially more money, well, if that job isn’t brought to the commission’s attention, instead of receiving an average monthly wage calculation of $3500 a month and maybe set it a $1000 and that can have significant economic repercussions down the road. You want to look at that and make sure it is included, that get said to the commission by the industrial carrier, and then the commission is required to make an independent determination based on the other in-supplied from the insurance company as to whether or not the carriers, calculation of the wages, average monthly wage is correct.
Once the commission has undertaken its average monthly wage calculation, then the commission will issue the Notice of Average Monthly Wage. It will set forth both the wage that was calculated by the carrier and then also the approved wage that the commission has determined as appropriate. This document is the important one because it’s the one that has to be protested if it’s incorrect. Once you receive this document, you want to look at it very carefully. If you disagree with the amount, then a hearing needs to be requested before the 90-day deadline runs.
Once that deadline runs it maybe difficult or impossible to request a hearing after that 90-day deadline and get this number [menu 00:04:20] even if it was based on erroneous information from the insurance company or the employer. It’s very important to look at this. If you have any question about it, call me, or get in here for free consultation, we’ll go over everything with you, analyze it. I’ve got 25 years of experience doing this. I’ve seen a lot of different average monthly wage cases. We want to look forward to make sure that we get you the maximum amount that you are entitled to.