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Cost of Living Adjustments

Workers currently receiving Washington workers’ compensation wage-replacement or pension benefits should receive a cost-of-living (COLA) increase effective July 1 each year. State law requires that benefits be recalculated each year to reflect the change in the state’s average wage from the previous calendar year.

Who gets a COLA?

Workers currently receiving Washington workers’ compensation wage-replacement or pension benefits will receive a cost-of-living increase effective July 1 each year.

Do I need to ask for the COLA?

The Department of Labor and Industries will automatically calculate your adjustment. You will see the adjustment after July 1, and usually no later than August 15 for all of time loss or pension benefits from July 1 going forward.

If your claim is covered by a Self Insured employer the Third Party Administrator will automatically calculate your COLA. If you don’t receive an increase automatically contact your attorney.

What if I receive Social Security Benefits, will I still get a COLA

When a worker is receiving a check from L&I and is also on social security disability, they may or may not receive a cost of living increase every year.

Based on the claimant’s wages, they either receive a cost of living increase once a year (July 1) and/or their claim is reviewed once every three years.

Federal law allows the department to review the combined benefit amount every three years to determine whether the income should increase to reflect more current wage levels.

How do they determine how much the COLA will be?

Subject to details of the Washington’s workers’ compensation law, injured workers receive from 60 to 75 percent of their income, up to the legally set maximum, tax free, while they are off the job and recovering.

The recalculation of benefits is based on the average annual wage of all workers in Washington. That wage, is calculated by the employment Security Department. The new monthly benefit is based on a maximum of 120 percent of the state’s average monthly wage, for workers injured after June 30, 1996.

COLA 2014

The 2014 COLA for injuries occurring before July 1, 2011 is .02016.  Stated another way, the 2014 COLA is just over 2%.

For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2011, see RCW 51.32.072.

What’s Next?