$1,035.78 was certified as the maximum weekly compensation rate for South Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) for accidents occurring on or after January 1, 2023.  This rate has traditionally been revised annually on January 1 and should be revised upwards on January 1, 2024.  Some most recent maximum compensation rates beginning January 1 were:  2022, $963.37; 2021, $903.40; and 2020, $866.67.

Calculating the average weekly rate and compensation rates are quite another issue, and it may not be as straightforward as it seems for every injured worker in South Carolina.  Your compensation rate is not only the weekly rate that you should be paid while you are unable to work, but it is also the rate that is used to determine any ultimate compensation due to you at the conclusion of your matter for any permanent injury.  Thus, the proper calculation of the compensation rate can dramatically affect any injured worker’s value received from their claim.

How is the maximum compensation rate determined?

Compensation rates are determined pursuant to Title 42 of the SC Code of Laws.  The maximum compensation rate in South Carolina equals 66⅔% of the injured worker’s average weekly wage as determined by the SCDEW.

How is the compensation rate affected when an injured worker has multiple jobs?

If an employee in South Carolina is injured on the job, and has multiple jobs, the average weekly wage and compensation rate normally should be calculated incorporating the income from all employment.  This is critical for workers with multiple employers, as insurance companies oftentimes will not go out of their way to ferret out additional benefits due to injured workers.

How does being paid in cash affect my compensation?

Being paid in cash should not affect your compensation, but it often does.  Oftentimes, employers who pay employees in cash do not keep proper records in compliance with the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act such that an employee’s average weekly wage and compensation rate can be easily determined by review of the records.  Furthermore, when the employer is required to report the wages, they are often underreported.  And finally, overtime hours and wages are often unreported and unpaid in these situations.

How could working overtime hours affect my workers’ compensation claim?

It is often discovered in workers’ compensation claims that injured workers were working hours that they were no being paid for, or that they were working overtime hours and no being properly paid the minimum rate of 1.5x the regular rate pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  All unpaid regular and overtime hours should be incorporated into the injured worker’s average weekly wage and compensation rate; however, that is easier said than accomplished with the workers compensation insurance companies.  It should also be noted that a claim for unpaid wages or unpaid overtime wages may be able to be made, and that there is a time limit to make such claims, such that an injured worker should immediately consult with an attorney to pursue their rights or risk losing their rights forever.