Data for Adjusting Disability Ratings to Reflect Diminished Future Earnings and Capacity in Compliance with SB 899

by Seth A. Seabury, Robert T. Reville, Frank W. Neuhauser

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The passage of SB 899 introduced sweeping reforms to the California workers’ compensation system. One of these reforms was the requirement that the system for evaluating the severity of permanent disabilities incorporate empirical data on the long-term loss of income experienced by workers with injuries to different parts of the body. However, no previous work has provided enough information on the predicted loss of earnings capacity for different types of injuries to generate a complete set of adjustments to the rating schedule. This document summarizes the average disability ratings and 3-year cumulative proportional earnings losses for 23 different categories of disability. This includes a discussion justifying the use of standard ratings (ratings before age and occupation adjustments), proportional earnings losses calculated at the individual level, and estimates of ratings and losses for three separate regions of the spine.

This research was funded by the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) and was performed by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.

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