Understanding the average weekly wage (AWW) can help you compare your earnings and ensure you’re being paid according to state laws following an injury. Average weekly wage is a way to measure workers’ compensation benefits following a workplace injury. Here is everything you need to know about AWW, plus other commonly asked workers’ compensation questions.

What Does Average Weekly Wage Mean?

As stated by Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, the average weekly wage refers to an employee’s average-earned wages before an injury occurs. Illinois state law describes the average weekly wage as the average based on the previous 52 weeks before the injury date. The state also publishes the state’s average weekly wage bi-annually, which sets a minimum and maximum compensation amount for workers receiving workers’ compensation.

How To Calculate the Average Weekly Wage in Illinois

You can calculate the average weekly wage in Illinois by taking all your earnings for the 52 weeks prior to your injury and dividing them by 52. You can also calculate the average weekly wage using quarterly income, excluding overtime. It’s important to note that these calculations are only relevant for employees who worked full-time during the last 52 weeks or four quarters.

If you didn’t work for any full weeks during the prior year, you’d have to deduct partial weekly earnings and instead divide them by the number of weeks in which you did work full-time.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a type of employer insurance that covers medical costs for an employee who is injured on the job. All U.S. states have some form of workers’ compensation program.

Who Is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

Illinois law requires most employers to offer workers’ compensation benefits. Maintaining your workers' compensation eligibility often requires you to immediately notify your employer of the injury. Waiting more than 45 days to report the injury could result in a denied workers’ compensation claim. In some cases, workers’ compensation in Illinois may also cover psychiatric injuries. Extreme stress in the workplace or proof of psychiatric harm could result in receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Unique Work Situations and Workers’ Compensation

It’s possible to suffer an injury at work before celebrating your first work anniversary. In fact, one-third of work-related injuries occur within the first year of work. In this case, you can calculate your average weekly wage by adding up all your earnings and then dividing it by the number of full weeks worked. Employees who work for a company that offers workers’ compensation benefits should be eligible for them beginning on the first day of work.

Some employees may also work less than full-time schedules. The state of Illinois doesn’t allow part-time workers to use the same calculation. The same goes for seasonal or intermittent employees in Illinois. However, Illinois does allow workers to calculate the average weekly wage based on a similar employee in the same position who did work the full four quarters.

Some employees may lose multiple income sources if injured at one job. Multi-job schedules aren’t uncommon in certain industries, especially construction. Workers’ compensation may allow for payments based on multiple jobs as long as the employee can prove all sources of income.

How Much Is Workers’ Compensation in Illinois?

Illinois pays 66% compensation of the average weekly wage. Compensation amount may also be subject to the state’s calculated minimum and maximum rates on the injury date. It’s important to note that any changes made to these calculations after the injury date won’t apply to the injured worker.

How Long Can a Worker Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Workers’ compensation benefits are typically available to qualified injured workers for up to two years from the injury date. Employees who suffer significant, life-changing injuries may be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits for their life. These benefits are given to employees who suffer an injury that no longer allows them to do the same job they once did.

Even employees who can still work but in a different position may be eligible for wage differences. Other benefits may also be available through workers’ compensation, including disfigurement or permanent total disability.

What Happens if I’m Wrongly Denied My Benefits?

You should be covered if you’re injured on the job, and your employer was required to carry workers’ compensation benefits. Most employers in Illinois are required to carry workers’ compensation benefits. If workers’ compensation denies your claim, find out why. Workers’ compensation claims are sometimes denied based on a missing document or inaccurate information. If you’re still unable to get the benefits you deserve, you can reach out to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Illinois. In some cases, it may also be worth it to talk with a workers’ compensation lawyer.

You deserve a workplace that’s safe and injury free. Yet, some jobs carry an inherent level of risk that can put your livelihood and income-earning capability at risk. That’s where workers’ compensation comes in, which often pays you a percentage of your average weekly wages to ensure you have the funds you need while recovering.