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LIFE PENSION

If a work injury causes total permanent disability or 70% or more permanent disability, a life pension is payable when the permanent disability payments end, if less than total.

In Baker v. WCAB (2011) 52 Cal. 4th 434, the Supreme Court noted that "Permanent disability and life pension benefits are intended to compensate the injured worker for the long-term, residual effects of an industrial injury once the worker has attained maximum medical recovery."

For injuries on or after 1/1/03, Labor Code §4659 was amended to provide a cost of living adjustment: "an employee who becomes entitled to receive a life pension or total permanent disability indemnity as set forth in subdivisions (a) and (b) shall have that payment increased annually commencing on January 1, 2004, and each January 1 thereafter, by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the "state average weekly wage" as compared to the prior year."

Labor Code §4659 defined "state average weekly wage" as the average weekly wage paid by employers to employees covered by unemployment insurance as reported by the United States Department of Labor for California for the 12 months ending March 31 of the calendar year preceding the year in which the injury occurred." See DWC chart for SAWW from 2006 on.

See, too, COLACommutation and Subsequent Injuries

Label Item Links Comments
Labor Code Labor Code §4453: "In computing average annual earnings for the purposes of temporary disability indemnity and permanent total disabilityindemnity only, the average weekly earnings shall be taken at...."

Labor Code §4659(c): "For injuries occurring on or after 1/1/03, an employee who becomes entitled to receive a life pension or total permanent disability indemnity as set forth in subdivisions (a) and (b) shall have that payment increased annually commencing on January 1, 2004, and each January 1 thereafter, by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the "state average weekly wage" as compared to the prior year. For purposes of this subdivision, "state average
weekly wage" means the average weekly wage paid by employers to employees covered by unemployment insurance as reported by the United States Department of Labor for California for the 12 months ending March 31 of the calendar year preceding the year in which the injury occurred."
LC §4453




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