Understanding DBA Compensation and Average Weekly Wage under the Defense Base Act (DBA)
The author, a DBA attorney and a veteran of the U.S. Army’s Third Ranger Battalion understands the importance of claimants receiving DBA compensation owed to them under the Defense Base Act quickly. The Defense Base Act (DBA) is a federal law that provides compensation and benefits to civilian employees working overseas under U.S. government contracts. Among the key aspects of the DBA are the provisions for compensation and determining the Average Weekly Wage (AWW) of eligible workers. In this article, I will explore the concept of DBA compensation and delve into the calculation of the Average Weekly Wage under the Defense Base Act.
Compensation Coverage under the DBA:
The DBA ensures that employees engaged in covered employment are entitled to compensation for work-related injuries or illnesses. This compensation encompasses several aspects, including medical benefits, disability benefits, and death benefits.
- DBA Medical Benefits: The DBA provides coverage for reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to a work injury or illness. This includes doctor visits, surgeries, hospital stays, medications, physical therapy, and any other required medical services. The injured worker’s medical expenses are typically paid by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
- DBA Disability Benefits: If an employee is unable to work due to a work-related injury or illness, they may be eligible for disability benefits under the DBA. Disability benefits can be classified into two main categories under the Defense Base Act: Temporary Total Disability (TTD): TTD benefits are provided when an employee is completely unable to work due to an injury or illness. The DBA compensation amount is generally calculated as two-thirds (66.67%) of the worker’s Average Weekly Wage during the 52 weeks prior to the DBA injury or illness (including PTSD).b. Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): PPD benefits are applicable when an employee sustains a permanent impairment or loss of function but can still work to some extent. The compensation amount is determined based on the employee’s impairment rating and the nature of the disability.
- DBA Death Benefits: In the unfortunate event of an employee’s death resulting from a work-related incident, the Defense Base Act provides death benefits to the surviving dependents. These benefits may include funeral expenses and compensation for the loss of financial support.
Calculation of Average Weekly Wage (AWW):
The Average Weekly Wage under the Defense Base Act is a crucial factor in determining the amount of compensation an employee is eligible to receive under the DBA. It serves as the baseline for calculating disability benefits. The AWW is typically calculated based on the worker’s earnings in the year preceding the injury.
To determine the Average Weekly Wage, the following steps are generally followed:
- Establish the relevant period: The first step is to determine the period that will be used to calculate the AWW. This period is usually 52 weeks (one year) immediately preceding the injury date. However, if the worker did not work for the full 52 weeks, adjustments may be made to accommodate a shorter period.
- Identify the earnings: During the relevant period, the worker’s total earnings from covered employment are considered. This includes wages, salaries, and other forms of remuneration such as housing allowances or overseas differentials.
- Calculate the Average Weekly Wage: The total earnings from the relevant period are divided by the number of weeks in that period to arrive at the Average Weekly Wage. This figure is used as the basis for determining the compensation amount under the DBA.
It is important to note that the DBA sets a maximum limit on the compensation rate for DBA disability benefits. The maximum compensation rate is adjusted annually based on changes in the national average weekly wage.
The Defense Base Act provides essential compensation and benefits to employees working overseas under U.S. government contracts. Understanding the coverage and calculation of DBA compensation is crucial for both contractors and employers. By providing DBA medical benefits, DBA disability benefits, and death benefits, the DBA aims to protect and support workers who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses. Calculating the Average Weekly Wage accurately ensures that employees receive fair compensation in accordance with their pre-injury earnings.
For more information, contact DBA Lawyer Tim Nies, of Van Riper and Nies, day or night. Tim is an Army Ranger Veteran and has been an injury lawyer since 2001. Since approximately 2010, he has solely represented injured clients. For the first 9 years of his career, he was an insurance defense trial attorney. He knows the tactics of DBA insurance adjusters. He works hard for his clients and makes sure his clients are paid the compensation they deserve under the Defense Base Act. Tim represents DBA claimants at all stages of the claim, from inception to DBA claim settlement negotiations, DBA mediations, and formal hearings at the Office of the Administrative Law Judges. Tim has got your six.
Call Tim at 772-283-8712 or visit us at defensebaseactlawyers.com and use our contact us form. The DBA consultation is free. For more information please review our DBA YouTube videos or review our DBA articles.