Governor Kemp signed Senate Bill 135 on May 7, 2019. Within this bill are several provisions favorable to injured workers in the state of Georgia. First, this bill will increase the maximum weekly benefit rate from $575 to $675. If you are injured in Georgia and cannot work, your weekly benefit rate is equal to 2/3 of the average wage you earned in the 13 weeks prior to your injury (TTD = Temporary Total Disability). However, that 2/3 rate is capped depending on the date of your injury. This new maximum will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
Second, and in accordance with this new cap on TTD, there is also an increase in TPD (Temporary Partial Disability) to $450, and an increase in the total compensation for a surviving spouse should an injury result in death.
Important to Georgia workers is the additional provision contained in SB135 which provides exceptions to the current 400-week cap on medical benefits. Prior to the passage of SB135, workers with serious medical injuries that required a lifetime of care, but whose injury did not result in a total inability to work, would have their access to medical care cut off after 400 weeks. (This is true only if the date of accident is on or after July 1, 2013. Injuries prior to July 1, 2013 already have access to lifetime medical). SB135 created certain exceptions to that cut off which would include access to prosthetics, joint replacements, spinal cord stimulators, and durable medical equipment. Importantly, SB135 is retroactive so that by creating these exceptions, two classes of workers were not created: those who were subject to the cap, and those that were not. Instead, all injured workers who need lifetime access to these devices will be able to get the coverage they need.
While this is certainly good news for injured workers, it is important to remember that if you are injured in Georgia, the rules which govern workers’ compensation are complicated. If you believe you are entitled to benefits which you are not receiving, please contact our office so that we can help you get the benefits you deserve.