2019 L&I Cost of Living (COLA) Increase Rate
For most workers injured on or before July 1, 2018, time-loss and pension benefit payments will increase by 5.5 percent.
State law requires that benefits be recalculated each year to reflect the change in the state’s average wage from the previous calendar year. The results of this recalculation is the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA).
For only those injured workers who already get the maximum monthly benefit, their rate will increase to $6,530.10, or 120 percent of the state’s average monthly wage.
The increase also applies to pension benefits paid to family members of those who died because of a work-related accident or disease.
Who gets a COLA?
Most workers currently receiving Washington workers’ compensation time loss or pension benefits will receive a cost-of-living increase effective July 1 each year.
Do I need to ask for the COLA?
You should not need to ask for the COLA, and you should not have to hire an attorney to get a 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 your COLA increase automatically from the Third Party Administrator, contact the Self Insured Section of L&I and ask them to help. You can ask the Self Insured Section to issue a penalty for any late COLA payment.
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 does L&I 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 COLA 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.
L&I COLA 2019
The 2019 COLA is 5.5 %.
Most workers with an injury date between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, will receive their first COLA on July 1, 2020.