How to Determine Lost Wages
Lost wages can become a significant burden on an injured worker. If you can’t earn your usual income due to an injury or illness, you can no longer support yourself sufficiently. You might struggle to pay for necessary medical treatment and afford your daily cost of living. It’s a stressful situation for anyone to deal with.
Fortunately, you could seek benefit payments to cover a portion of your lost wages while you’re earning less money than normal. Even if you can return to your job, certain benefit programs allow you to collect payments based on how much income you’re not making while treating your medical condition.
Determining how much of your wages you have lost can be complicated. It requires reviewing a range of factors and calculating a number based on the circumstances of the injury or illness.
What Are Lost Wages?
Lost wages refer to the wages you can’t earn at your job as a direct result of an injury or illness. It doesn’t matter whether you were in an accident at work or off the clock. Benefits are available for both situations.
You could file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company for an on-the-job injury. Lost wage benefits will cover a percentage of your average weekly wages as long as the injury reduces your pay and keeps you out of work for more than seven days.
If you suffered an injury outside of work that limits your ability to make the money you made before the accident, you could apply for Social Security disability benefits. This benefit program provides monthly payments to eligible individuals. You might qualify if you were employed long enough and paid Social Security taxes on your paychecks.
Lost wages include any wages lost due to an injury or illness, such as:
- An hourly or salary base pay
- Employee benefits
- Pay from working overtime
- Sick and vacation days
- Bonuses or commissions
- Contributions made to a retirement account
- Hourly or salary raises
Determining the Value of Lost Wages
You can calculate your lost wages by reviewing documentation associated with your pay. Wages don’t only involve paychecks. You could also include bonuses you won’t be able to receive, vacation days you can’t take, and anything else that contributes to your finances from your employment.
Whether you’re applying for Social Security disability or workers’ compensation coverage, the factors used to calculate your lost wages could include:
- Bonuses received before the accident
- Average wage earned prior to the injury or illness
- Whether education and experience allows for a transfer to a different position or another job entirely
- Mental and physical limitations of the job
- Hourly or salary raises based on typical schedules and percentages
- Permanency of the injury, meaning whether it will continue to affect job performance
- Paid time off the employer provides
Maintaining copies of every document you receive could be beneficial while pursuing benefits. You should hire a lawyer to assist you with your claim. Recovering lost wages can be a challenge if you don’t know how to handle the process. If you miss a strict deadline or submit an incomplete application, you could miss out on the benefits you’re entitled to.
Evidence You Need to Prove Lost Wages
Evidence is valuable in any claim. Whether you’re applying for Social Security disability with the Social Security Administration or workers’ compensation coverage through your employer’s insurer, you need evidence to prove your injury or illness.
The evidence necessary to show you can’t make the wages you made before the accident will depend on the specific circumstances of your case but could include:
- Pay stubs indicating the difference between previous income and current income due to the injury or illness
- A copy of your job description to demonstrate your level of impairment based on your daily responsibilities
- Lost wage report from your employer
- A letter from your employer and medical providers explaining how your condition affects your abilities at work
- Prior tax returns
- Employment history to show whether you can find a different job and earn the same or higher income as before the accident
- Statements from family and friends about the effects of the injury on your functional capacity
If you suffered an injury off the job or while performing your work-related duties, contact Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. today. We can review all necessary information to determine whether you have a case to pursue. You might qualify for Social Security disability or workers’ compensation benefits.
Our New York disability attorneys have over 40 years of experience representing sick and injured workers. We will fight to protect your rights and seek the maximum benefit payments you deserve. You can count on us to remain by your side until the end.
Call Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. right now at 516-496-0400 for your free consultation.