2022 COLA Rates Increase Washington State Workers’ Comp Benefits

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/Darylann Elmi

Workers’ compensation benefits increased by 7.5% at the start of July in line with the state’s rising average wage, according to to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).

Washington’s average annual wage grew 7.5% to $82,508 in 2021, marking the second largest increase in more than two decades. The 10.1% increase in wages in 2020 was the largest in state history. 

The strong demand for workers and hiring challenges across various job sectors drove the sharp increase in average wage growth in 2021. While wages grew in all industry sectors, the greatest increase occurred in those with large numbers of lower-wage workers, including leisure & hospitality (up 14.2%), transportation and warehousing (up 7.6%) and retail trade (up 6.5%).

Because state law requires that workers’ comp benefits administered by the  change annually to reflect fluctuations in Washington’s average wage from the prior calendar year, time-loss and pension benefit payments for most workers injured on or before July 1, 2021 will increase by 7.5% in line with a cost of living adjustment (COLA) of the state’s average wage.

As a result, for 2021, the COLA increased the maximum monthly benefit to $8,251 or 120 percent of the state’s average monthly wage. 

The monthly increase in workers’ comp payouts also applies to pension benefits paid to the relatives of those who died from a work-related accident or disease. For most workers, these increase became effective July 1, 2022.

However, some workers may not be eligible for the most recent COLA, such as those who also receive federal Social Security benefits. Most workers whose injury date falls between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 will receive their first COLA on July 1, 2023.

Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us for advice on your L&I, workers’ compensation or other employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.

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