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How Are My Workers' Compensation Benefits Calculated?

Tommy Murphy Jan 23, 2017

All workers' compensation disability benefits are paid based off an injured workers' average weekly wage ("AWW"). Your AWW is intended to reflect what you would be making if you were still working at the time of your injury and should include all jobs you may have been working (concurrent employment). Making sure that the insurer correctly calculated your AWW could mean the difference between hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over the life of your claim.  

Generally, your AWW is calculated by adding the gross earnings from your last four paystubs prior to your injury and dividing that amount by the total number of weeks the paystubs cover. However, this general calculation method often does not adequately reflect the employee's actual wage-loss. For instance, a construction worker who works 60 hours a week for eight months of the year, and only 20 hours a week for 4 months per year, would have a significantly higher AWW if he/she was injured during the busy season. As a result, Montana law allows for exceptions to the general rule when the four pay period method does not accurately reflect wage lost.

Another instance where the last four pay periods do not adequately reflect an injured workers' wage loss is when the worker has concurrent employments at the time of their injury. Depending on the type of concurrent work, you may be entitled to calculate your disability benefits based on your combined earnings from both employments. This can significantly increase the rate of your disability benefits, and is often overlooked by insurers. 

As you can see, the calculation of a workers’ compensation disability rate is complicated and fact-specific process. Your AWW is used to pay all types of workers' compensation disability benefits including Temporary Total Disability benefits, Temporary Partial Disability benefits, Permanent Partial Disability benefits, and Vocational Retraining benefits, so it  is very important that it is calculated correctly. Unfortunately, at Murphy Law Firm, we see insurers consistently miscalculating injured workers’ benefit rates resulting in less benefits.

If you believe you are being paid incorrectly, contact Murphy Law Firm at (406) 452-2345 for a free consultation, or visit us on the web at We can help get you the full benefits you deserve. 

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