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PDFWAC 296-14-4129

How will imputed wages be determined?

(1) When the worker has performed work or work-type activities within the state of Washington, the department imputes wages based on information collected and reported by the department of employment security. This information may include wages for the same or similar jobs within the geographic area proximate to the worker and for the same or most proximate time period as the work or work-type activities performed.
(2) When the worker performed work or work-type activities outside the state of Washington for which wages are to be imputed, the department will use information collected and reported by the United States Department of Labor Statistics to determine the correct imputed wage.
(3) In no case shall the imputed wages equal less than the hourly minimum wage for the proximate time period and geographic area used.
(4) If the worker engaged in reduced work or work-type activities when compared to the employment at the time of injury, except in pension cases, the department shall calculate the loss-of-earning power benefits consistent with RCW 51.32.090(3) to which the worker would have been entitled based on the imputed wage.
Example of imputed wage: A worker received time-loss compensation benefits and contended he was unable to work in his regular job as a construction laborer. Investigation showed that he was working painting houses on a regular full-time basis. The work he performed was ongoing over an extended period of time. Payments for this work were reportedly on a cash basis and no records were kept.
Wages would be imputed based on the average wage of a painter in his local area as reported by the department of employment security.
Example of reduced work or work-type activity: A worker was receiving time-loss compensation benefits for a shoulder injury she suffered while working as a registered nurse. She contended she was unable to perform nursing duties. The department received evidence that she had in fact been working on a regular basis as a cashier in her husband's delicatessen. There were no wages reported for this work. The evidence also showed she had worked there for several months.
The medical and vocational providers were shown the investigative evidence and they determined the worker was able to work and had returned to work as a cashier.
The department would impute wages based on the average wage paid by the business owner to other employees in the same position. If there were no other employees, wages would be imputed based on the average wage of a cashier in the local area as reported by the department of employment security.
Example of release for work and no imputed wage: A worker, who was a carpenter on the date of injury, was receiving time-loss compensation benefits based on his alleged inability to return to work. He contended he had to use a wheelchair to get around.
Video evidence was obtained showing him performing extensive remodeling work on a rental home he owned. He did not use the wheelchair and there was no indication he had any difficulties performing the work. His activities included installing siding and windows, painting, and performing other activities inconsistent with his alleged level of disability. He received no wages as the work was done on his personal property.
The video was shown to his attending physician. The physician withdrew his certification of the worker's entitlement to time-loss compensation benefits and released him to return to work at his job of injury effective the first date of the video surveillance.
There is no need to impute wages because the release for work was to the job of injury.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 51.04.010, 51.04.020, and 2004 c 243. WSR 04-20-024, ยง 296-14-4129, filed 9/28/04, effective 11/1/04.]
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