When do I get a cost of living adjustment (COLA) from L&I on my workers’ compensation time loss or pension payments?

It’s July! Time for a COLA?

When do I get a cost of living adjustment (COLA) from L&I on my workers’ compensation time loss or pension payments?

For most workers – those who are not also receiving Social Security Disability or Retirement benefits -- a cost of living increase is applied every July 1st to time loss and pension benefits.

If you receive both workers’ compensation time loss or pension benefits and Social Security Disability or Retirement benefits, you may not receive a COLA increase every year.

  • If your time loss or pension rate is higher than 80% of your average current earnings (ACE), then you have a straight, dollar for dollar offset (your workers’ compensation benefit is reduced one dollar for each dollar you receive in Social Security benefits). With this type of offset, you will receive a COLA every July 1.
  • If, however, your time loss or pension rate is lower than 80% of your ACE, your Social Security benefits will be offset against the higher 80% ACE amount. You will not receive a COLA every July 1. Instead, you will receive a COLA every three years on January 1.

If you are not sure which offset method applies to you, your attorney or claim manager can help you find out.

You also will not receive a COLA increase if your injury happened within the year before July 1. So, for example, to receive the 2017 increase, your injury must have happened on or before July 1, 2016. If your injury occurred between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, you can expect your first COLA increase on July 1, 2018.

Note: The Washington state legislature passed a one-year freeze on cost of living increases for 2011. COLAs went into effect again on July 1, 2012, but there was no retroactive payment of the skipped 2011 increase.

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