Cost of Living Adjustments in the Auto Industry

Lawyers for Workers’ Compensation Claims in Chicago

By law, employers that have one or more part-time or full-time employees in Illinois are required to obtain workers’ compensation coverage. This coverage provides benefits when workers are injured. Disability benefits are calculated by the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW). This sets the minimum and maximum weekly benefits for workers’ compensation. However, there are also cost of living adjustments (COLAs) in the auto industry and other industries for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are an auto worker with questions about COLAs, a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand your rights.

Statewide Average Weekly Wage

The Illinois Department of Employment Security publishes the SAWW every six months. The state calculates this figure by taking the total wage amount paid over the past six months and dividing it by the total number of employees over the prior 6 months, even if some workers were working daily, while others worked part time or a few days. Self-employed and federal workers aren’t counted. The SAWW determines a maximum and minimum benefit level. Rates are supposed to be posted by January 15th and July 15th every year.

The Illinois statute is controlling. If there’s a discrepancy between the calculation made by the Department and the statute, the statute will be the correct calculation.

Cost of Living Adjustments in the Auto Industry

The cost of living changes, and so your benefit amount is not fixed for life. After a workers’ compensation claim is closed by a decision, COLAs may be made. The recipient gets a monthly amount from the Rate Adjustment Fund showing the increase in the statewide average weekly wage in the previous year. The Rate Adjustment Fund is the state fund that dispenses fatal awards as well as COLAs.

There are many different categories of benefits available to auto workers injured on the job. The ones available to you turn on how severe your injury is, how much time is needed for recovery, and the body part that was injured. The benefits can include disability benefits intended to partially replace wages, medical benefits, and vocational rehabilitation benefits. If you are killed on the job or pass away from an occupational illness, death benefits are available for your survivors, such as a spouse and kids. Benefits available in these workers’ compensation programs are also subject to COLAs. A knowledgeable work injury lawyer can assess the type and amount of benefits you may be eligible to receive.

COLA and Fatal Awards/Death Benefits

Fatal awards include a number of different benefits to survivors of a family member who has lost their life on the job. There is a burial benefit of $8000 plus a survivors’ benefit equaling 2/3 of the employee’s gross average weekly wage during the 52 weeks before their injury, subject to maximum or minimum restrictions. The survivors’ benefit is paid to a decedent’s spouse and minor children. The minimum survivors’ benefit can’t be less than 50% of the SAWW at the time of the injury, except when there’s a reduction for partly dependent family members. It also can’t be more than 133 1/3% of the SAWW at the time of the injury. The benefit is paid for 25 years of weekly benefits or until $500,000 is paid out, whichever is greater.

The benefit won’t stay fixed for life. When the case for death benefits is closed by a decision, there will be cost of living adjustments. Starting the second year after an award is issued, a survivor receiving these benefits receives a monthly sum from the Commission’s Rate Adjustment Fund that shows the increase in the SAWW during the prior year.

Consult a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago

If you are concerned about cost of living adjustments in the auto industry in Chicago, a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can answer your questions. The experienced team at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck represents injured workers in Quincy, Rockford, Aurora, and Champaign, as well as Cook, Kane, Winnebago, Adams, Kane, and Sangamon Counties. Contact us at 800-444-1525 or at 312-263-6330 or by completing our online form.