DI 52120.050 District of Columbia Workers' Compensation (WC)
District of Columbia WC is administered by the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES). WC is provided through private carriers but employers may self-insure. The law covering District of Columbia WC is Division 5 – Title 32 (Labor) – Chapter 15, and Rules 200 through 299.1.
Prior to 07/26/1982, all DC WC was paid as federal WC administered under the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). For more information on LHWCA, see DI 52115.025.
The information below describes WC based on injuries 07/26/1982 or later. WC based on earlier injuries (‘old law’ cases) still mimics LHWCA cases, so those cases have different COLA amounts and effective dates.
A. Types of DC WC payments
All periodic payments are subject to a maximum amount based on the date of injury. For injuries occurring on or after 04/16/1999, the law now limits WC benefits to a total of 500 weeks for any one injury causing temporary or permanent partial disability. Within 60 days of the award expiration date, the claimant may petition for an extension of up to167 additional weeks beyond the 500-week cap.
1. Temporary total (TT)
These payments are based on 2/3 of the individual’s FULL average weekly wage and are now limited to 500 weeks.
2. Temporary partial (TP)
These payments are based on 2/3 of the difference between the individual’s average weekly wage before and after the injury. They are now limited to 500 weeks.
3. Permanent total (PT)
These payments are based on 2/3 of the individual’s FULL average weekly wage and are paid for the duration of the disability.
4. Permanent partial (PP)
These payments are now limited to 500 weeks.
PP for Loss of Bodily Function: (Scheduled award): This is paid in addition to TT and at the termination of TT. These awards are NOT reduced because of the receipt of TT. This WC is paid at 2/3 the individual’s average weekly wage times the number of weeks specified for that body part. PP payments are made for disfigurement, but WC for disfigurement is limited to $7,500.00.
PP to the Body as a Whole: These awards are based on 2/3 of the difference between the individual’s average weekly wage before and after the injury (limited to 500 weeks). They are payable at the time the individual returns to work or achieves maximum medical improvement.
5. Lump sum settlement awards
Approved lump-sum settlements discharge the liability of the employer for further WC. The settlement is approved where it is in the best interest of the injured individual and both parties are represented by legal counsel. Structured settlements are allowed, provided that they reflect the amount of money required to be invested in addition to the annuity to be paid. (For more information on structured settlements, see DI 52150.065.) Settlements are complete and final dispositions of cases and are binding compensation orders.
6. Vocational rehabilitation benefits (VR)
The individual can receive up to $50 per week ‘maintenance’ benefits in addition to TT WC during periods of vocational rehabilitation. However, as these maintenance payments are made in addition to WC, they do not cause offset. For more information on VR payments, see DI 52110.005.
B. Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs)
See DI 52120.050H - Exhibits for a COLA chart.
New Law: The District of Columbia gives a ‘supplemental allowance’ on its WC to individuals who are totally and continuously disabled. These increases are effective January 1st.
Old Law: COLA percentages are the same as LSHW COLAs, and are effective October 1st.
C. Attorney fees
Attorney fees are approved on a case-by-case basis but are limited by law to 20 percent of the actual benefit secured through the efforts of the attorney [Statute: 32-1530 (f)]. Upon approval of a fee, it becomes a lien against the WC awarded.
D. Retirement insurance benefit (RIB) considerations
DC does not offset their WC for RIB.
E. Time limitations for filing claims
The individual must file a claim within 1 year from the date of injury, or within 1 year after the last payment of WC. However, he has up to 3 years after the termination of nonscheduled benefits to reopen his case due to changes in condition [Statute: 32-1505(b)].
F. Verifying WC
Contact DOES at: DC Department of Employment Services
Labor Standards Bureau
Office of Workers' Compensation
4058 Minnesota Avenue, NE, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20019
Phone: 202-671-1000 (TDD/TYY: 202-673-6994)
Fax: 202-671-1929 or 202-671-1930
NOTE: For old law cases, send your request to District 40 Office (at the same address). The District 40 Office phone number is 202-671-1070.
G. DC WC forms
The District of Columbia does not have standardized WC forms that have WC information useful to SSA. However, within 16 days after final payment of WC has been made, the employer must notify the Mayor:
the date of the first WC payment,
that final payment has been made,
the total amount of compensation paid, and
the date to which compensation has been paid.
Minimum and Maximum WC Rates and COLA Percentage Increases
District of Columbia
Minimum and Maximum WC Rates
COLA Percentage Increase
|01/01/1985-12/31/1985|| $103.32||$413/26|| 4.15%|
|01/01/1986-12/31/1986|| $107/93||$431.70|| 4.46%|
|01/01/1987-12/31/1987|| $113.49||$453.94|| 5.15%|
|01/01/1988-12/31/1988|| $120.48||$481.92|| 5.15%|
* There is a 5 percent cap on the minimum and maximum weekly WC benefits
NOTE: These COLAs do not apply to old law cases ('District 40' cases) with a date of injury before 07/26/1982. Old law cases have the same COLAs as LSHWC cases, and the COLAs are effective October 1st. For more information, see http://www.dol.gov/esa/.