Big speed
There is no fee unless we win!
  • EN
  • ES

L&I Time-Loss & Wage Replacement Compensation in Washington

Table of Content
    L&I Time-Loss & Wage Replacement Compensation in Washington

    Unpacking the complexities of workers' compensation in Washington State can be daunting for anyone who has suffered a workplace injury or illness. Understanding your rights and potential benefits is crucial for ensuring that you're properly supported during your recovery.

    Lehmbecker Law is committed to providing clients with the knowledge and legal assistance they need during challenging times.

    This post will examine the intricacies of Washington State Department of Labor and Industries time-loss and wage replacement compensation, offering a comprehensive guide on how to apply and what to expect, along with tips for making sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

    Time-Loss Compensation Laws in Washington State

    Time-Loss Compensation Laws in Washington State

    Time-loss compensation plays a pivotal role in providing financial support to Washington workers who are unable to work due to job-related injuries or occupational illnesses. This form of compensation is administered by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) and regulated under RCW 51.08.178 and 51.32.090.

    Time-loss compensation (also known as wage replacement benefits) is disbursed every two weeks, bridging the gap in income loss during the injured party’s recovery period. These benefits typically amount to 60%–75% of pre-injury earnings, subject to a cap.

    It’s worth noting that the IRS classifies time-loss compensation as a disability benefit rather than earned income, exempting it from standard income tax laws.

    Understanding the waiting period stipulation for time-loss compensation is key to making the most of available benefits.

    Following an injury, the first three days are considered a waiting period, during which the injured worker won't receive wage replacement benefits. However, if their inability to work extends beyond 14 days, compensation for these initial days will be included in subsequent payments.

    What Benefits Does Time-Loss Compensation Offer?

    L&I time-loss compensation offers a range of benefits designed to support workers during their recovery and eventual return to the workforce.

    First and foremost, approved beneficiaries receive compensation for lost wages, covering the income they would have earned had they been able to work. These benefits also cover essential medical expenses incurred due to the injury or illness, ensuring that workers receive necessary treatment without financial burden.

    In some cases, L&I may even provide support for vocational rehabilitation, facilitating the acquisition of new skills tailored to alternative employment opportunities within the workforce.

    Why Is Time-Loss Compensation Important for Washington Workers?

    Time-loss compensation is a vital lifeline for workers in Washington State, offering crucial support during times of injury or illness. For many, it’s the sole safety net available to ease the considerable financial strain caused by medical expenses and lost income.

    This compensation isn't merely a monetary aid — it’s designed to cover a spectrum of injury-related costs, including hospitalization, follow-up doctor visits, physical therapy sessions, and necessary prescription medications.

    This additional support is indispensable, particularly for those with limited or no health insurance coverage, as it ensures access to vital medical care without fear of financial hardship.

    How Do I Qualify for Time-Loss Compensation?

    You must meet several basic criteria to qualify for time-loss compensation in Washington.

    First, you must have an open and valid L&I claim indicating that the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries recognizes and accepts your injury or illness. Additionally, you must have an Activity Prescription Form (APF) completed by an approved L&I provider on file with L&I. This form outlines your medical restrictions and limitations.

    Furthermore, it's essential to verify that you aren’t currently working due to your injury or illness. You can do this by filling out a Work Status Form and submitting it to L&I.

    How Much Does L&I Pay for Time-Loss?

    Time-loss compensation is meant to provide financial support to injured workers in Washington State, albeit at a reduced rate compared to their regular paycheck. As mentioned, time-loss payments typically amount to 60%–75% of the wage a worker earned before their injury.

    L&I establishes both maximum and minimum time-loss rates to ensure consistency and fairness in compensation:

    • For July 2023 through June 2024, the maximum time-loss rate is set at $8,250 per month, equivalent to 120% of the state's average monthly wage for 2020.
    • The minimum time-loss rate for the same period is $1,052.09 per month, excluding additional support for family members, or 15% of the average monthly wage.

    Once finalized, your time-loss rate remains consistent throughout the duration of your claim. Should you disagree with the calculated amount, you have the right to protest the order in writing. Seeking assistance from an experienced workers' compensation lawyer can be instrumental in navigating this process effectively.

    How Are Time-Loss Compensation Benefits Paid?

    Upon receiving notice from your doctor indicating your inability to work, L&I or your self-insured employer will initiate the payment process. Your first check will be mailed within 14 days of this notification, provided you meet the eligibility criteria, and no further information is required.

    After that, checks are issued twice a month, contingent upon certification from your approved L&I provider affirming your inability to work and receipt of your signed Worker Verification Form by your L&I claim manager or self-insured employer.

    It's important to adhere to the established procedures for check cashing and handling.

    If you fail to cash a received check within 180 days, it will expire. Fortunately, you can request re-issuance of an expired check within two years from the issue date. In the unfortunate event of a lost or stolen check, you’ll need to contact your claim manager promptly to rectify the situation.

    Keep in mind that no taxes are withheld from time-loss compensation benefits. The fact that wage replacement is classified as a disability benefit rather than earned income means it’s exempt from standard income tax laws. This ensures that recipients receive the full extent of their entitled compensation, minimizing financial strain during recovery.

    What If My Time-Loss Payment Is Late or Missing?

    If your time-loss payment is late or missing, the actions you can take depend on whether your claim is being managed by a self-insured employer or the Department of Labor and Industries.

    Claims Filed with Self-Insured Employers

    If your employer is self-insured, they can be penalized for late or missed time-loss payments. The penalty assessed will usually be the greater of $500 or 25% of the amount due. This penalty is payable directly to you, the injured worker.

    Claims Filed with L&I

    If the Department of Labor & Industries is managing your claim, there’s no penalty for late or missing time-loss payments. Even so, it's important to address the issue to ensure that you receive the compensation you need.

    How to Apply for L&I Time-Loss Compensation in Washington

    Apply for L&I Time-Loss Compensation in Washington

    When applying for L&I time-loss compensation, it's essential to follow a structured process to guarantee timely access to benefits. Here's a detailed overview.

    Documentation Requirements

    The type and amount of documentation needed for your case hinges on the severity of your injury or illness. Typically, you'll need to furnish details regarding your employment history, the nature of your injury, and the medical treatment required. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can facilitate the collection of necessary documentation.

    Immediate Actions After Injury

    Before formally filing a claim, it’s important to take certain immediate actions. First, seek prompt medical attention to address your injury or illness. Once you’ve done that, notify your employer about the incident to ensure that they’re aware of your situation.

    Filing a Claim with L&I

    You have several options for initiating a claim:

    • Filing by Phone: Call 1-877-561-CLAIM (3453) to file a claim over the phone.
    • Filing Online: Use the FileFast tool on L&I’s website for speedy online claim submission.
    • Filing at Your Doctor's Office: Submit your claim through your attending physician's office.

    Choose the filing method that’s most convenient and accessible for you, given your circumstances. If your employer is self-insured, make sure you file the claim directly with them.

    Additional Verification

    You’ll need to complete a Work Status Form to verify your inability to work due to your injury or illness. You’ll also be expected to undergo an Independent medical examination (IME). Visit an approved L&I doctor to have your injury evaluated and determine your eligibility for benefits.

    Claim Assessment

    Once you’ve filed your claim, L&I officials will review it, considering various factors to determine your eligibility for time-loss compensation. They’ll then assign a dedicated claim manager to your case.

    Activities to Avoid While Receiving Time-Loss Compensation

    While you’re receiving time-loss compensation, you’ll be expected to refrain from certain activities to demonstrate the integrity of your claim and apply with relevant regulations. Here’s what to do (and what not to do).


    It's imperative not to engage in any work or work-like activities while you’re receiving time-loss compensation unless specifically approved for loss of earning power benefits. This includes activities unrelated to your job that might suggest a capacity for physical tasks.

    Social Media Posts

    Avoid posting anything on your social media accounts that could contradict or appear to contradict your claim. Inconsistencies between your purported injury and online activities could undermine the credibility of your claim.

    Medical Appointments

    Make it a point to attend all scheduled medical appointments without exception. Missing appointments may raise doubts about the severity of your injury or your commitment to the recovery process.

    Along these same lines, it’s vital to adhere to your doctor's recommendations regarding physical activities, including exercise and recreational pursuits. Failure to comply with the medical advice you receive could result in your claim being reviewed or your benefits being terminated.

    What Are Loss of Earning Power Benefits?

    Loss of earning power (LEP) benefits are a form of compensation provided to workers who have experienced a reduction in their ability to earn wages due to a work-related injury or illness. These benefits are intended to bridge the gap between the wages they earned before getting hurt or falling ill and the reduced earning capacity the injury or illness has caused.

    LEP benefits are typically offered as a part of workers' compensation programs, such as those administered by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

    How Do I Qualify for LEP Benefits?

    You must meet certain criteria to qualify for loss of earning power benefits, including the following.

    Greater than 5% Loss of Earnings

    Your loss of earnings must exceed 5% of your wages at the time of injury. Under L&I guidelines, you may return to work for less pay than before you were hurt or resume working for your regular wage but with reduced hours.

    Doctor's Certification

    Your doctor must certify that your loss of earning capacity is directly related to your work-related injury or occupational illness. This certification is crucial for establishing the link between your injury and its impact on your earning ability.

    Acceptance of a Light-Duty or Transitional Job

    If your doctor approves a light-duty or transitional job and you choose not to accept it, you may forfeit your LEP or wage replacement benefits. This possibility underscores the importance of cooperating with your medical provider and adhering to their recommendations for rehabilitation or modified work duties.

    Continued Employment

    Lastly, you must still be actively working and earning income through salary, wages, or commission. Unlike other forms of compensation, LEP benefits are simply meant to make up the difference between your pre- and post-injury earnings.

    What Are Examples of Light-Duty Jobs?

    The following are all common examples of light-duty jobs or transitional work arrangements.

    Shorter Hours

    You might temporarily reduce your work hours as you recover from your injury, gradually increasing them back to your regular schedule as your condition improves.

    Part-Time Duties

    Initially, you might perform only some of your original job duties on a part-time basis, gradually increasing your workload until you can resume your full-time responsibilities.

    Different Duties with Lighter Physical Demands

    Your employer may offer alternative tasks that are less physically taxing, allowing you to transition back to your regular job over time. For example, if your original job involved heavy lifting, you might temporarily take on an administrative or customer service role.

    Job or Worksite Adjustments

    Your employer might modify your job or worksite to accommodate your physical limitations. This could involve providing assistive tools, equipment, or appliances to help you perform your duties safely and effectively despite your injury.

    What to Do If Your Time-Loss Compensation Claim Is Denied

    What to Do If Your Time-Loss Compensation Claim Is Denied

    Just because your wage replacement compensation claim has been denied doesn’t mean you’re powerless. You have a couple of options for getting the help you need.

    1. Protest the Decision

    You, your employer, and your doctor all have the right to protest any decision L&I makes regarding your workers' compensation claim. You must submit a written protest within 60 calendar days of the date the decision was received (15 days for decisions regarding vocational benefits). If you fail to take action within this timeframe, the decision will become final.

    2. Appeal to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals

    If you disagree with L&I’s decision after protesting, you can appeal directly to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA). Note that the decision becomes final if you don’t submit a written appeal within the appropriate time limit, either:

    • 60 days to appeal a claim or payment decision or
    • 20 days for providers to appeal a billing decision that reduces the amount paid or demands repayment.

    You may be eligible for back time-loss compensation during the protest and appeals process. However, if your L&I claim is later denied after an appeal with a final order, you must repay all the provisional time-loss compensation you received.

    It's important to understand and adhere to the specified timeframes for protesting and appealing decisions related to your workers' compensation claim. A workers' compensation attorney who focuses on workers' rights can provide reliable guidance and support throughout the process.

    Why Do Time-Loss Benefits End?

    Time-loss benefits typically end when one of the following conditions is met:

    • Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI): Further medical treatment is considered unlikely to significantly improve your condition.
    • Return to Work: You’re deemed capable of returning to work, either in your previous position or in a modified/light-duty capacity.
    • New Medical Evidence: Subsequent examinations indicate that your condition has sufficiently improved or is no longer directly related to your work injury.

    In some cases, time-loss benefits have a predetermined duration or may be subject to certain eligibility criteria, such as reaching retirement age or no longer meeting the definition of disability under workers' compensation laws.

    What to Do When Wage Replacement Compensation Ends Before It Should

    Here are some steps you can take if your time-loss benefits end prematurely and you believe you’re still entitled to receive them.

    Review the Decision

    Look over the notification or decision letter you received from the workers' compensation agency or your employer to understand the reasons for the termination of your benefits.

    Seek Clarification

    If you’re unsure why your benefits have ended or believe there’s been an error, contact the workers' compensation agency or your employer's human resources department for more information.

    Request a Reconsideration

    If you disagree with the decision to terminate your benefits, you may have the right to request a reconsideration or appeal. Follow the appropriate procedures outlined by the relevant workers' compensation agency or consult a workers' compensation attorney for personalized guidance.

    Explore Alternative Options

    If you’re no longer eligible for time-loss benefits, consider exploring other forms of financial assistance or support, such as vocational rehabilitation programs, Social Security disability benefits, or alternative sources of income.

    Continue Getting Medical Treatment

    Regardless of changes in your benefits status, it’s wise to continue following your established medical treatment plan and attending appointments as recommended by your healthcare provider. Your health and well-being are paramount, and continued medical care can help you achieve the best possible recovery outcomes.

    Turn Workers' Comp Challenges Into Success

    If you've encountered obstacles with your workers' compensation claim, whether it's a denial, dispute, or termination of your benefits, Lehmbecker Law can help. Our lawyers focus on workers' compensation cases and understand the complexities of the system well.

    Don't go through the process alone and unsupported — let Lehmbecker Law be your trusted partner in seeking the compensation you need. Schedule a consultation today to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

    Get Reliable Assistance with Your L&I Time-Loss Claim

    Take the difficulty out of pursuing time-loss compensation from L&I. Contact Lehmbecker Law today for trustworthy guidance and support tailored to your needs.

    Request Free Consultation

    Time-Loss Compensation Made Simple

    Contact Lehmbecker Law today to secure necessary compensation and peace of mind as you navigate the aftermath of a workplace injury.

    Request Free Consultation

    Larry A. Lehmbecker
    Firm Founder, Larry Lehmbecker, has nearly 40 year’s of experience fighting for the injured in Washington State. He is always eager to share his knowledge to help those in need.
    Contact Lehmbecker Law Today
    Our attorneys and paralegals have decades of experience to help ensure you get the proper treatment for your injuries
    Contact Us

    Latest News & Insights

    What Is My Workers’ Compensation Settlement Worth in Washington?

    Discover the value of your Washington worker's compensation settlement: factors, calculations, and maximizing your rightful compensation.

    Can I Sue for a Dog Bite in Washington?

    Want to know your legal rights after a dog bite and how much you can sue for? Find out all the details in a helpful post from Lehmbecker Law Firm!