A frustrating issue came up on one of my files and I thought it would be a good refresher tip of the week regarding reduced impairment benefits.
Once a claimant is put at MMI, they are paid impairment benefits at a rate of 75% of their TTD rate per 440.15(3)(c). However, for each week in which the claimant earns 100% or more of their AWW (for any employer), you can reduce the IB payment to 37.5% of the TTD rate.
Well right off the bat, the problem is many employees are paid bi-weekly, but you have to calculate it weekly to see if they earned the AWW or more. It can be for a new employer or include a concurrent employer, good luck getting weekly versus bi-weekly wage info.
Another frustration is there is no voluntary limitation of income defense, unfortunately, per the 2010 case (below) of Seminole County Government v. Baumgardner. So, arguably, if the employer would have had a job for the claimant but he was fired for stealing, you still have to pay the higher amount at 75% of the TTD rate because the claimant earned less than his AWW. If the claimant clocks out 30 minutes early on Friday to get to happy hour, then you owe the higher amount if they earned less than the AWW. The DCA basically said it’s just math.
The best way is to ask the employer to keep you in the loop on the claimant’s hours. If they are not working the full amount just know you will have to pay the higher amount.
If there is an underpayment of the IB’s, you would owe penalties and interest only on the amount underpaid UNLESS you send dwc-19’s and they aren’t returned by the claimant timely.