In the ordinary case, a worker receives 80 percent of the after-tax value of his or her wage loss. It does not matter whether the worker is totally or partially disabled. Benefits are based on the wage loss and set at 80 percent of the after-tax value of the loss. (Total and permanent disability is a special category for which additional benefits may be paid.) With the 2011 amendments to the Act, a partially disabled worker's weekly wage loss benefit can be reduced by their residual wage earning capacity.
Thus if a worker is unable to work, a determination would be made of his or her "average weekly wage" before the injury and they would be paid benefits equal to 80 percent of the after-tax value of that amount. If they return to work and because of the injury receive wages less than their average weekly wage, they would receive benefits equal to 80 percent of the after-tax value of the difference (partial wage loss). If they have not returned to work but retain the ability to do some work for wages even if not actually working, the weekly wage loss benefit would be reduced to take into account the residual wage earning capacity.
Prior to 1982, the basic rate of benefits was two-thirds of the worker's gross average weekly wages rather than 80 percent of the after-tax value of his or her wages. When this law was changed, it was also provided that if the two-thirds formula subject to the 1981 maximum limitation would result in a higher rate, the worker is entitled to receive that rate. The tables published by the agency for calculating the compensation rate indicate when this situation applies. The agency provides a free down-loadable program to accurately calculate weekly wage loss benefit rates.