What is Wage Differential & Does It Apply to Your Workers' Comp Case?

When you return to work after an on-the-job accident, it might not be a return to the same exact job position you had before. Due to limitations caused by your injury, your medical provider might not clear you to continue your previous job and all of its responsibilities, which could prompt your employer to place you into a different, lower-paying position. When you are losing out of wages by being forced into a different role, workers’ compensation benefits could make up the difference by pursuing a wage differential settlement.

How Does Wage Differential Work?

In Illinois, you may be entitled to wage differential payments if your incapacitation caused by a work-related injury prevents you from returning to your regular work and lowers your regular wage as a result. You are entitled to 66-2/3% of the difference between your new wage and what you were earning before your accident. The payment amount provided should be equal to at least how much you would have earned during your disability.

For example, if you were disabled for 10 weeks due to a workplace accident and returned to work that paid $600 less than your prior wages, then a wage differential settlement should equal $4,000. This result is attained by taking roughly 66% of $600, which is $400. Since in this scenario you were disabled for 10 weeks, $400 is multiplied by 10, resulting in the final amount of $4,000 provided in a settlement.

You should keep in mind that wage differential payments are supplementary to any other workers’ compensation benefits you should receive as a result of your workplace accident. Receiving money to make up for the wages you lost does not make it so you cannot pursue other damages, no matter what your employer’s insurance provider might try to claim.

What to Do If You Aren’t Provided Wage Differential Payments

Illinois law – specifically Section 8(d)(1) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act – describes when and how an injured worker should be given a wage differential settlement. The clarity in the law does not guarantee compliance among insurers, though. It is quite possible that the responding insurance company will try to argue that your claim or situation does not qualify you for a wage differential payment.

If such a case arises, you are not out of options. You can speak with a local workers’ compensation attorney about what to do next, which might be preparing for a lawsuit. Wage differential amounts can be awarded through a trial award.

For more information about wage differentials and how they apply to workers’ comp cases in Illinois, you can call (312) 487-2513 and speak with a workers’ comp lawyer from Leonard Law Group in Chicago.

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