L&I Benefits

Loss of Earning Power Benefits

An injured worker can return to their job under loss of earning power (LEP) benefits with a doctor’s medical clearance. If you are not deemed fit to fulfill your prior duties or responsibilities, your L&I lawyer will help arrange for light-duty or transitional work for you as you continue toward full recovery.

How Do I Qualify for Loss of Earning Power (LEP) Benefits?

Your loss of earnings must be greater than 5% of wages at the time of injury. Some examples include:

  • Returning to work for less pay, or
  • Returning to work at your regular wage but at reduced hours.

Furthermore, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your doctor must certify that your loss of earning capacity is due to your work-related injury or occupational illness. If your doctor approves a written light-duty or transitional job and you choose not to accept the work, you are not entitled to LEP or wage replacement.
  • You must still be working and earning income salary, wages, or commission.

What Are Examples of Light-Duty Jobs?

Light-duty or transitional work can include the following:

  • Working shorter hours
  • Performing some of your original duties part-time, then gradually increasing back to your full-time work responsibilities
  • Performing different duties with lighter physical demands as you transition back to your regular job
  • Adjusting your job or worksite to meet your physical limitations by providing tools, equipment, or the appliances that you need to perform your job as expected by your employer

Concerns about returning to work — and the possible impact on your claim — are normal, but don’t let these concerns stop you from talking to your employer. You can continue to receive treatment for your Labor and Industries claim until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).

How to Apply for Loss of Earning Power Benefits in Washington State

The amount of documentation required for your case depends on how severe your injury or occupational illness is. In most cases, you will need to provide details about your injury, your employment history, and the medical treatment you need or are currently receiving. You will likely require the assistance of an experienced L&I attorney to help you collect all the required documentation. You can apply for LEP benefits on the L&I website.

In order to receive LEP benefits from L&I, there are two very important things that you must do right away, even before a claim is filed:

  • Get medical help.
  • Tell your employer.

If you are injured at work, you have three options to file a Washington State L&I claim:

You must further:

  • Verify that you are not working by completing a Work Status Form for L&I, and
  • Visit an approved L&I doctor so they can complete an Independent Medical Exam (IME) to evaluate your injury and determine your eligibility for benefits.

L&I will consider your claim and make the determination based on your personal circumstances. Note that if you work with a self-insured employer (SIE), you must file your claim with them.

A lawyer calculates line items.

How to Calculate Loss of Earning Power Benefits

Your LEP benefits are the higher of the two following calculations: 

  • 80% of the difference between your date of injury wages and current wages
  • 1 minus the percentage of your current reduced wages to your date of injury wages times your current time loss rate

You can use the L&I interactive LEP calculator to estimate the amount of your benefits. More information regarding LEP calculations can be found in L&I’s LEP Claims Guidelines.

How Long Do Loss of Earning Power Benefits Last?

When your L&I claim closes, or you have returned to your full earning capacity, your LEP benefits will end.

However, if you suffer a permanent reduction in wages or earning power as a result of your workplace injury, you may be able to claim one of the following L&I benefits:

1. L&I disability pension: A life-long benefit awarded to injured workers who will never be able to return to any gainful employment due to a severe or life-threatening injury.

2. Permanent partial disability (PPD) award: A one-time sum paid to injured workers when their L&I claim is closed. The worker can re-enter the workforce following a PPD award.

3. Claim resolution settlement agreement (CRSA): An L&I settlement option where all parties agree to close an injury claim for a specified amount. When agreeing to this settlement type, the injured worker exchanges all future benefits, except medical, for the payment.

Does FMLA Affect My Eligibility?

No. Any leave you take under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) should not impact your ability to make a claim for LEP benefits. They are separate claims.

Remember, just as you are entitled to apply for LEP benefits, it’s important that your employer treats you fairly and does not discriminate against you for exercising your FMLA rights. If your FMLA rights have been violated, call Emery | Reddy, PLLC for a Free Case Review with an experienced Intake Specialist to learn about how our FMLA Attorneys may be able to help you with your claim.

Loss of Earning Power vs. Time-Loss Compensation

Loss of earning power benefits are not the same as time-loss. Time-loss compensation, also known as wage replacement benefits, is a partial wage replacement for an L&I claim and is paid every two weeks while you are not working due to a job injury or an occupational illness.

Loss of earning power benefits apply to workers able to return to work, but only on light-duty. This can be on a part-time basis or at a lower rate of pay.

Your L&I Claim Is Worth More If You Also Have an Employment Claim

A significant number of L&I — workers’ compensation claims often involve additional legal claims such as employment or third-party claims. Many people file their claims without seeking representation from an L&I attorney and thus never discover that, in addition to their L&I claim, they may be missing out on the ability to file an employment claim or a third-party claim. Pursuing additional legal action with the help of an experienced Labor and Industries attorney has the potential to significantly increase a claim’s overall compensation. At Emery | Reddy, our experienced Attorneys practice both Employment and Workers’ Compensation Law, which means we will investigate all aspects of your claim to make sure you aren’t missing out on any potential benefits.

timothy emery and patrick reddy walking in downtown seattle


Watch This Video to Learn More about How Employment Law and L&I Claims Work Together

What Is an Employment Claim?

Many injured workers find that their employer has taken, or plans to take, adverse action against them because they filed an L&I claim or they are out of work. You can file a lawsuit against your employer for several reasons, including retaliation, wrongful termination, disability discrimination, or unpaid wages. An L&I attorney who is experienced in both L&I — Workers’ Compensation Law and Employment Law can help you with your L&I claim while simultaneously filing a federal or state law claim for the violation of workers’ rights by your employer.

What Is a Third-Party Claim?

third-party claim is one in which someone other than your employer or co-worker is responsible for your injury. If you have been injured on the job due to someone else’s actions or negligence, you may be entitled to additional compensation through a third-party claim, which combines your L&I claim with a personal injury claim using the same facts.

Unlike workers’ compensation payments, there is no limit to the amount of compensation an injured worker may seek in third-party damages. Third-party claims are private matters and are typically litigated directly with the Washington State Superior Court.

Who Is at Fault for a Workplace Injury?

L&I is a no-fault system, ensuring compensation for any workplace injury. However, if a third party is involved in causing the injury, you may be able to pursue legal action against them for additional compensation under third-party claims.

How Do I Know If I Have a Strong L&I Claim?

If you have an L&I claim or wonder if you qualify for LEP benefits, ask yourself the following:

If any of the above apply to you, Emery | Reddy may be able to help.

Navigating a workers’ compensation claim can be difficult and very time-consuming, especially when you’re ill or injured. You want to focus on healing and make sure your bills are paid, but if you don’t file things properly or on time, your health, home, and job could be in jeopardy. Many individuals miss out on much-needed L&I benefits because they don’t understand what to do or how to get the most compensation for their injuries. If you are experiencing any challenges in your case, a Labor and Industries attorney can assist you. By contacting Emery | Reddy as soon as possible after you’ve been injured, we can help you avoid the common pitfalls of filing and navigating an L&I claim. Our Seattle L&I Attorneys are here for you every step of the way.

Emery | Reddy Can Help You with Your L&I Claim

Emery | Reddy is the only law firm in Washington state that is equipped to provide comprehensive representation on your case from every angle. Our Seattle L&I Attorneys thoroughly assess every case to determine if our clients have additional claims, and at times this can extend far beyond the underlying workers’ compensation claim.

If you have been injured in the workplace, call Emery | Reddy today for a Free Case Review with an experienced Intake Specialist to learn more about how we may be able help you.

Want More Information?

Learn more about the workers' compensation process and how you can receive the treatment and benefits to which you are legally entitled.

The Labor and Industries claim process is anything but straightforward. Find out the answers to your L&I — workers’ comp questions today.

To determine the value of your L&I claim, you first need to understand the different types of L&I awards offered in Washington state.


Meet the Team

The L&I Attorneys at Emery | Reddy, PLLC are passionate about helping workers with L&I claims and Employment Law issues. We Help Workers®. It’s our motto and what drives us every day.

We know how L&I and big companies think, and we understand the tactics they use. Our Labor and Industries Attorneys use that knowledge coupled with over three decades of experience to help our clients get access to the L&I benefits to which they are legally entitled and hold employers accountable when they break the law.

If you’re struggling with an L&I claim, injury, or legal issue at work, call us for a Free Case Review with an experienced Intake Specialist to learn more about how Emery | Reddy may be able to help you today.

“I highly recommend Emery | Reddy, PLLC. The staff there are simply amazing and dedicated to their clients. There are no other attorneys that will work as hard for you as Tim Emery does. I could not have been happier with his representation and outcome of my case and will never go anywhere else.”

— Kimberly U.

Receive a
FREE Case Review