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Does Workers’ Compensation Pay for Lost Wages?

December 24, 2021

If you suffer an injury or illness at work that interferes with your ability to do your job, Colorado’s workers’ compensation system can make up for your lost wages until you can return to work (if possible). Although workers’ comp will not cover 100 percent of your lost income, it can still help you and your family bridge a pay gap related to a medical condition – either temporarily or permanently.

Does Workers' Compensation Pay for Lost Wages?

How Much Can You Receive in Lost Wage Benefits?

In Colorado, two-thirds of a worker’s weekly wages are available for recovery through a workers’ compensation claim, subject to the state’s minimum and maximum limits. This means you can recover about 67 percent of all of the income and employment benefits that you will miss out on because of an occupational injury or illness. As of 2021, the maximum compensation benefit rate in Colorado is $1,074.22 per week. There are also various caps for lump-sum payments, bodily disfigurement and cases involving worker deaths.

There are two types of supplemental lost wage benefits for which you may also qualify: supplemental job displacement benefits and return-to-work supplement benefits. The first is a voucher that may be available if you suffer a permanent disability and your employer cannot offer you any other work. In this case, you may receive a job displacement voucher to help you pay for new job training or education. If you qualify for a supplemental job displacement voucher, you may also be eligible for a one-time payment of $5,000 through Colorado’s return-to-work supplement program.

Types of Lost Wage Benefits

The amount of money that you can receive in lost wage workers’ compensation depends on factors such as the extent of your injury, whether or not you are able to return to work, and your average weekly wages before your injury or illness. Colorado’s workers’ compensation system categorizes disability benefits into four types:

  1. Temporary partial disability. If your work injury gives you a disability that makes you partially unable to work – such as working fewer hours or in a modified position – for a limited amount of time until you make a full recovery, you can receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. This will make up the difference between what you used to make and what you make now. You will continue receiving these benefits until you can return to full work capacity.
  2. Temporary total disability. If your injury completely takes you out of work, but your physician believes that the disability is only temporary, you may receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. You can receive two-thirds of your average weekly wages with TTD every two weeks until your doctor clears you to return to work.
  3. Permanent partial disability (PPD). You can continue receiving partial disability monetary benefits for a longer period of time if a physician diagnoses you with the permanent loss of function or impairment. You may receive PPD benefits of an amount based on the percentage of loss determined by your doctor and Colorado statutes.
  4. Permanent total disability. If your workplace accident leaves you with a permanent total disability (PTD) and you are unable to earn any wages for the rest of your life, you can continue receiving the same amount that you would have received in PTD benefits for a longer duration.

The amount of your lost wage recovery through a Colorado workers’ compensation claim will depend on your specific circumstances. If you believe that you are not being offered a fair or adequate amount in lost wage benefits from your employer’s insurance provider, consult with an attorney for assistance. An attorney can help you understand the value of your workers’ comp claim, as well as explore the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit for greater lost wage recovery. A lawsuit could allow you to recover 100 percent of your lost wages. Talk to a workers’ compensation attorney in Denver for more information.