Time Loss Compensation – WA L&I Payments for Lost Wages

What can I do while on time loss?

You can go about your daily activities within the limits and restrictions outlined by your doctor.  You should be receiving medical treatment and attending medical appointments while on time loss. Use this time to focus on  your recovery.

Can I volunteer while on time loss? 

You can volunteer while on a time loss, however you should be careful and do it correctly. Get your doctors approval. Have it be a therapeutic thing which is good for your physical and mental health. Don’t do too much. Don’t receive wages for volunteering and inform L&I of the volunteer activity. Don’t have it rise to the level of work type activity. WAC 296-14-4123(1). Don’t volunteer so much that L&I says you are employable WAC 296-19A-010.

The time loss rules. What should I not do while on time loss?

  • Do not work while on time loss
  • Do not perform activities that look like work, especially in your front yard where you are in full view of L&I investigators
  • Do not post anything on social media which contradicts what you are saying to L&I and to your doctor. L&I investigators read the social media posts of injured workers every day. They are looking for people who are working. They are looking for people who perform activities that are the equivalent of work
  • Do not miss your medical appointments
  • Do not engage in sports or other activities which are inconsistent with your medical restrictions. Follow your doctor’s advice about activity
  • Understand this: L&I works overtime to look for dishonesty and to prosecute dishonesty as fraud.

Who pays the time loss for my lost wages?

The Department of Labor and Industries makes the time loss payment to  injured workers on State Fund Claims.

If you work for a Self Insured employer, your employer pays your time loss.  The self insured employer may have a Third Party Administrator (TPA) as their claims managers and issue time loss payments through that TPA.

How long do claims managers have to start paying time loss?

The first time-loss compensation payment must be ordered and mailed within 14 calendar days. Payments are due on the date of the department order.

The 14-day clock begins the day after the receipt of either the Report of Industrial Injury form or the worker’s application for benefits, or

The 14-day clock begins to run the day after the department receives either contention or certification from your doctor that time-loss compensation benefits are payable.

What if the self insurer or L&I won’t pay time loss or pays time loss late?

Self insured employers can be penalized for late or for missing time loss payments. You can request penalty from the Self Insured Section of the Department of Labor and Industries. The law assesses a penalty of the greater of $500 or 25% of the amount due. Payment is to the injured worker. 

For claims managed by the Department of Labor and Industries there is no penalty however you can request to speak to the unit supervisor and ask them to intervene.

How do I get paid penalty money for late time loss compensation?

You can request a penalty on a self insured claim by writing to the Self Insured Section of the Department of Labor and Industries. The director of L&I is required to issue an order within 30 days of your request.

Who do I complain to if my time loss rate is not correct?

Contact your claims manager to advise that your time loss rate is not correct. If an order has been issued setting your time loss rate, you must properly submit a timely WRITTEN protest or appeal that order. Do not hesitate. Time is of the essence. See How to Disagree with an L&I Decision. Provide the claims manager with your pay information if your employer is not responding to requests for wage information.

What is provisional time loss?

Time loss paid while the claim is under investigation is provisional time loss. It is different in character then time loss.  Provisional time loss comes with strings attached. If your L&I claim is later denied with a final order you must pay back all the provisional time loss you received.  L&I does not always initiate provisional time loss while they are waiting to make a decision on allowing or denying your claim.  They do have to pay it, so if you deserve it and want it, then request that L&I pay provisional time loss.

What if I return to work for less money?

You can apply and possibly receive Loss of Earning Power

What does the law say about time loss?

Time loss statute is  RCW 51.32.010

Are time loss orders important?

  • Pay attention to all L&I orders, including time loss orders
  • An order is a legal communication from L&I. Your benefits are affected by these orders. Pay attention to when you get the order. Look at the  amount of time you have to protest. This information is written at the bottom of the order.
  • If an order is unfavorable then protest or appeal in writing, or get a lawyer to do it for you, and do it before it’s too late.
  • The first time loss order you receive is the most important, because it sets your wage rate which determines your time loss rate. Be sure you pay attention to the L&I order setting your wage rate.  This may be the most important order on your claim. Make no mistake about this: the wage rate set in that order, once it becomes final, is the wage rate you will have  for the life of your claim. If it isn’t right, then do something about it. Protest the order in writing . You can protest in writing first, and get them the evidence later. Insist the claims manager get it right. Continue to protest or appeal as necessary. If L&I doesn’t get it right, then get a lawyer, before it’s too late.

Why does time loss end?

L&I time loss gets cut off for a number of reasons:

  • Return to work
  • Vocational services end and the injured worker is found employable
  • Doctor fails to certify time loss
  • Employer offers a job within the medical restrictions
  • IME doctor or the attending physician says worker can return to work
  • Self Insured makes a mistake, or is unreasonable
  • L&I makes a mistake

What to do when time loss ends before it should?

  • Disagree with any decision you think is wrong. Do it on time. See How to Disagree with an L&I Decision
  • Figure out why time loss ended and solve the problem. If you don’t know why time loss ended, review your file online and talk to the claims manager
  • If the employer has made a job offer, be sure that job offer complies with the Time loss and Job Offers issues covered by INTERIM POLICY 5-15.
  • If the self insurer unreasonably delays or refuses to pay benefits as they become due, ask for a penalty. RCW 51.48.017 and WAC 296-15-266
  • Talk to an attorney

How to keep time loss benefit going

  • See your doctor
    • communicate your work situation
    • make sure he reports to L&I
  • Communicate with your claims manager
    • Help get information to them
    • Make it easy for them to pay you

What If My Time Loss is Often Late?

Late time loss is no fun. You should do something about it. What you do depends upon the reason it is late.

Time Loss Calculator

What is the time loss formula?

Wage and Family Calculation

Your time loss rate is determined by multiplying wages times a family status percentage [wage rate x family status percentage = time loss rate].

Wages include:

  • your date of injury wages
  • contractual bonus
  • wages from a second job, if any
  • reported tips
  • board, housing, fuel, or other consideration of like nature,
  • the employers cost of health care insurance, if any, you may have lost since the injury.

Family status determines the % of wages

  • Single = 60%
  • Married = 5% more
  • Children = 2% more each up to 10% maximum
  • The child’s portion is paid to the parent/guardian with legal custody
  • Child’s 2% only to age 18 or 23 if in school full time.

Maximum Time Loss Rate

The above % of wages figures are limited for high income earners. There is a dollar maximum of time loss per month, which is determined by your wage as of your date of injury. This maximum dollar amount changes yearly. If the wage and family status calculation above ends up greater than the figures below, then you are a high wage earner and your maximum rate is set out below.

COLA Increase Effective 7/1/2021

Date of InjuryMax Time Loss Amount ($)
7/1/96 – 6/30/22
(120% SAW)
7/1/95 – 6/30/96
(115% SAW)
7/1/94 – 6/30/95
(110% SAW)
7/1/93 – 6/30/94
(105% SAW)
7/1/88 – 6/30/93
(100% SAW)
7/1/71 – 6/30/88
(75% SAW)

*SAW – State’s average (monthly) wage
**For details see L&I’s Maximum Time Loss Rate

Minimum Time Loss Rate

The % of wages figures don’t apply to persons who earn very low wages. If the wage and family calculation for you is less than the below figures, then you will receive the amount set out below.

Minimum Time-Loss Rate for a DOI or DOM on or after 7/2/08
15% of the State Average Monthly Wage

  • An additional $10.00 is added per month to the base rate for a spouse or registered domestic partner and $10.00 for each dependent child up to five dependents.
  • If the worker’s gross monthly wage is less than that sum then the worker is entitled to a time loss rate equal to 100% of their gross monthly wage or the minimum rate in effect prior to 7/2/2008 whichever is greater.
  • Any applicable cost of living increases should be added.
Date of Injury 15% of State Average Wage
07/01/21 – 6/30/22$959.26
07/01/20 – 6/30/21$871.25
07/01/19 – 6/30/20$816.26
07/01/18 – 6/30/19$773.59
07/01/17 – 6/30/18$736.96
07/01/16 – 6/30/17$703.41
07/01/15 – 6/30/16$685.37
07/01/14 – 6/30/15$657.94
07/01/13 – 6/30/14$644.94
07/01/12 – 6/30/13$623.68
07/01/11 – 6/30/12$602.03
07/01/10 – 6/30/11$589.41
07/01/09 – 6/30/10$578.20
07/01/08 – 6/30/09$559.01

For details see L&I’s Minimum Time Loss Rate

Can an Injured Worker Get Sick Pay and Time Loss for the Same Period?

  • Yes. The injured worker can double dip when using their earned benefits.  Holiday pay, vacation pay, sick leave, or other similar benefits shall not be deemed to be time loss payment by the employer
  • The same is not true for Washington Paid Family Leave.

What is Kept on Salary?

Kept on salary (KOS) is an employer continuing to pay the worker all the wages they were earning at the time of injury. When an employer accurately and timely keeps their injured worker on salary, the worker is not entitled to time loss payments for that same time period. The employer benefits from KOS because they can keep their L&I claim cost lower. The worker benefits because KOS is often higher than the time loss rate. RCW 51.32.090 (8)

To Get a Fair Time Loss Rate

Be sure you pay attention to the L&I order setting your wage rate. Make no mistake about this: the wage rate set in that order, once it becomes final, is the wage rate you will be stuck with, for the life of your claim. If it isn’t right, then timely protest the order in writing and insist the claims manager get it right. Continue to protest or appeal as necessary. See How to Disagree with an L&I Decision.  If L&I doesn’t get it right, then get a lawyer, before it’s too late.

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Christopher Sharpe is the go to attorney for injured persons. His law firm is helpful, honest, and knowledgeable about workers' compensation and personal injury law in the State of Washington. Chris has been helping injured Washington State workers for over 40 years. He has built a successful law practice by thoroughly educating, honestly helping, and successfully representing workers throughout Washington State.

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