2023 COLA Increase
Virginia Code Section 65.2-709 allows for claimants to obtain a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to their weekly compensation benefits each year. COLA does not apply to temporary partial disability benefits or permanent partial disability benefits. It does apply to temporary total disability benefits, permanent total benefits, and death benefits. The purpose behind COLA is to ensure that the value of benefits paid to injured workers is not diminished by inflation.
The COLA rate is dictated by the Consumer Price Index and varies year to year. It is published on the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission website. There is also a calculator on the Commission’s website that allows you to calculate COLA benefits for a specific claimant. You can access the COLA calculator here: https://workcomp.virginia.gov/content/cola-benefits-calculator.
On October 1 of each year, the new COLA rate goes into effect. For 2023, the COLA rate has been set at 6.4%. While this rate is lower than last year’s rate, it is still significantly higher than previous years. COLA rates for the previous 5 years were as follows:
Year COLA Rate
COLA is not self-executing, meaning the claimant or his beneficiary needs to file the COLA Request Form in order to receive the increase. The claimant must also verify whether he is receiving social security benefits when requesting a COLA increase. If the claimant is receiving social security benefits, the benefit received by the claimant (the compensation rate plus the social security benefit) cannot be more than 80% of his pre-injury average weekly wage.
Claimants can request COLA increases each year; it is not limited to the year of the accident. Additionally, they can request the increases at any time, even years later.
COLA increases are still subject to the maximum compensation limits, meaning a claimant cannot receive more than the set maximum weekly benefits when the COLA increase is added to their weekly benefit. The maximum and minimum weekly benefits vary from year to year as well. The maximum weekly benefit for 2023 is $1,343.00.
Supplemental Agreement Form
A new agreement form was recently announced by the Commission. It is entitled Supplemental Agreement Form – Varying Wage Benefits. A link to the new form can be accessed here: https://workcomp.virginia.gov/forms/supplemental-agreement-form-varying-wage-benefits.
The new Supplemental Agreement Form is to be used when a claim is accepted as compensable. It will be very useful for claims where a claimant has returned to work or has been in and out of work at various periods of time. It will also be useful in claims where the claimant has returned to work at various wages, necessitating different amounts Temporary Partial Disability benefits at various points in time.
Previously, parties had to enter into a separate Supplemental Agreement to Pay Benefits and Award Termination forms for each individual period of benefits. The new form allows the parties to include eight different periods of Temporary Partial Disability benefits as well as four different periods of Temporary Total Disability benefits. The form also includes a place to put an end date for periods of Temporary Total Disability benefits. This can all be included on one form now instead of having to complete multiple different forms for one claim.
The new form also allows for attorneys to sign on behalf of their clients, instead of requiring all claimants or claim administrators to sign the forms directly. The new form also includes a link to the Commission’s calculator for calculating various types of wage benefits, as well as a brief explanation of how to calculate Temporary Partial Disability benefits.
If you have any questions about the new Supplemental Agreement Form or calculating wage benefits, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Should you have any questions about the issues discussed here or other legal issues, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Ford Richardson.
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