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By:  Stan Lacy

Collins & Lacy, P.C.

Columbia, South Carolina

Maximum Compensation Rate Continues to Rise, Even in Bad Times

The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission has announced the maximum compensation rate for 2014 is $752.16, up from $743.72 in 2013. This means in spite of the poor economy, the average weekly wage in South Carolina continues to increase.

The maximum compensation rate is defined as “the average weekly wage in the State for the preceding fiscal year.” S.C. Code §42-9-10. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act charges the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) with annually determining that number. If salaries go up, average weekly wage goes up, and compensation rates go up. The maximum compensation rate was $645.94 in 2007. From that time to the present, the compensation rate has climbed an additional 16.4%. The cumulative inflation rate for the same period nationwide has been 12.4% according to The compensation rate has beaten the rate of inflation by 4% for that period. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for South Carolina went from 5.5% in June 2007 to 11.9% in June 2009 and stayed above 10% until October 2011. By December 2012, it dropped to 8.6% and is currently 5.7%.
With inflation being modest from 2007 to 2013, and unemployment being relatively high, it seems the state’s average weekly wage should go down, not up. One could reason that with so many people being out of work, the average income per citizen should be less, not more. Perhaps the unemployed are not included in the calculation of average weekly wage, or the calculation includes only those who are actually wage earners and their wages are way up, or maybe, conditions are not as bad as we have been led to believe.

In any case, we can say three things are certain instead of two: there will always be death, taxes…and ever increasing compensation rates.

Stan Lacy co-founded Collins & Lacy, P.C. in 1984. He has devoted his practice to workers’ compensation defense and is a certified South Carolina Circuit Court Mediator. Stan has practiced law for 40 years and has practiced exclusively in Workers’ Compensation law for more than 35 years. His legal career includes arguing many landmark cases to the Supreme Court, managing appeals to all appellate court levels, and working on industry-changing legislation on behalf of South Carolina. Stan has taught workers’ compensation law at the University of South Carolina School of Law for more than 30 years and continues to do so. He is regularly selected to be included in South Carolina Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America, two of the oldest and most respected peer-review publications in the legal profession. In 2012, Best Lawyers named Stan as the “Columbia, SC Best Lawyers Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers Lawyer of the Year”. The “Lawyer of the Year” is a designation awarded within high-profile legal specialties in large legal communities. Only a single lawyer in each specialty in each community is honored as the “Lawyer of the Year.”

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