On September 6th, 2023, Governor Hochul signed S01151-A/A02034A into law. The Bill takes immediate effect. The new law addresses the minimum amount awarded to claimants on a weekly basis. Since 2013, the minimum rate for claimants receiving weekly benefits from carriers has been $150.00, as long as their average weekly wage was above $150.00.
The new legislation amends Section 15(6)(a) in which it allows for an increase of the minimal rate going forward. For an accident occurring on or after January 1st, 2024, the minimal rate is set at $275.00 a week. For accidents occurring on or after January 1st, 2025, the minimal rate is set at $325.00 a week. For accidents occurring each year following, starting July 1st, 2026, and on or after July 1st of each succeeding year, the minimal rate is one fifth of the New York State average weekly wage for the year the accident is reported.
The exception to each minimal rate is: if the claimant’s average weekly wage is equal to or less than the statutory minimum rate, they will get their entire calculated average weekly wage.
This change is outlined in Subject Number 046-1649 (Subject Number 046-1649 (ny.gov)).
This new legislation brings the minimal rates in line with how maximum rates have been calculated for over a decade in Workers’ Compensation. The maximum weekly benefit amount is based on the New York State average weekly wage of the previous calendar year as reported by the Commissioner of Labor to the Superintendent of Insurance on March 1st of each year. The new rates then go into effect for accident dates July 1st and onward each year.
This reveals a fatal flaw in the new legislation. For example, if a claimant is injured on August 1st, 2026 and reports the accident the same day, under this new legislation, this claimant’s minimal compensation rate must be determined by the 2026 average weekly wage. However, that wage calculation will not be available until March 31st of 2027. Will awards need to all be made temporary for over 6 months until the new rates are issued?
While this change of increase minimum payments to claimants each year will affect all insurance carriers, small business and self-insured employers are more likely notice the effects.