If you’re receiving workers’ compensation in the state of Virginia and you have certain benefits, you’re entitled to a Cost of Living Adjustment (sometimes abbreviated COLA) once a year. The adjustment is not automatic and you must ask for it, so find out if you qualify.
The cost of living adjustment is an increase in the amount of benefits that you receive, going up as inflation goes up. The adjustment as of October 1, 2019 is 1.85%. The exact rate changes each year and is shared on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission website.
In order to be eligible for the adjustment, you must meet three criteria relating to the type of benefit you’re getting, the timing of the accident, and the amount of money you’re already receiving.
If you, an injured worker, are receiving temporary total disability benefits, permanent total disability benefits, or your family is receiving death benefits, you are eligible for the cost of living adjustment. If you’re receiving temporary partial disability benefits or permanent partial disability benefits you are not eligible for the adjustment.
The cost of living adjustment increase is effective as of October 1 of a specific year as long as the accident that caused workers’ comp to be filed was before July 1 of that year. For you to receive a cost of living adjustment that starts October 1, 2019, you must be injured before July 1, 2019.
Combined, the total amount of money from the worker’s compensation benefits and any Social Security disability benefits must be less than 80% of the money that you were making before your accident. So if you were making $500/week before your accident, the workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security disability benefits added together can’t be more than $400/week. Social Security retirement benefits are not included in this calculation.
Requesting the Cost of Living Adjustment
To receive the increase in your worker’s compensation benefits, you must request it from the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. You must fill out a specific form and include a copy of your Social Security benefits statement along with it. You then send the form to the Commission, and they will review it and adjust your benefits levels as necessary.