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RULE §128.2Carrier Presumption of Employee's Average Weekly Wage

(a) An insurance carrier (carrier) shall promptly initiate the payment of income benefits as required by the Workers' Compensation Act (Act). To expedite payment, the carrier shall presume that multiplying the employee's hourly rate times the average number of hours in the employee's standard work week, or, if such information is not available, that the employer's last payment to the employee for personal services based on a full week's work (a partial work week shall be prorated for a full week) accurately reflects the employee's average weekly wage (AWW) until:

  (1) the employer files a complete wage statement required by §120.4 of this title (relating to Employer's Wage Statement); or

  (2) the correct AWW is determined by other evidence (such as that described in subsections (b) and (c) of this section), if the employer does not file a complete wage statement or if the employee files an Employee's Multiple Employment Wage Statement in accordance with §122.5 of this title (relating to Employee's Multiple Employment Wage Statement).

(b) In the absence of a properly completed wage statement, the carrier shall calculate the correct wage by using available wage information in a manner which is fair, just, and reasonable, and which involves a methodology that allows the closest approximation of a calculation based upon a 13 week average as required by this chapter (for example, pecuniary wages would be included regardless of whether the employer continues them and earnings after the date of injury would not be included). Subsection (c) of this section provides examples of how to do this.

(c) This subsection provides a non-inclusive list of methods that carriers can use to calculate the correct AWW using evidence other than a complete wage statement. There may be other, similar but unlisted methods that are also appropriate in a given situation.

  (1) For a salaried employee, paid on monthly or semi-monthly basis, whose salary has not changed in the 13 weeks prior to the compensable injury, the carrier may presume that the AWW is equal to 3 months of wages divided by 13.

  (2) For an employee on whom the carrier receives 14 weeks of wage information but is unable to identify the amount of the wages paid in the 14th week (thus leaving 13 usable weeks), the carrier may presume that the AWW is equal to the 14 weeks of wages divided by 14.

  (3) For an employee on whom the carrier receives less than 13 weeks of wage information because the employee was not employed with the employer for 13 weeks prior to the injury, the carrier may presume that the AWW is equal to the amount of wages paid divided by the number of weeks for which the wages were earned.

(d) Upon receipt of a properly completed wage statement the carrier shall recalculate the AWW in accordance with the applicable rule(s).

(e) If, at the time that income or death benefits first accrue, the carrier has not received a complete wage statement as required by §120.4 of this title (relating to Employer's Wage Statement), the carrier shall notify the employer that the wage statement is now required under the Statute and Rules.

(f) If a carrier receives a wage statement that indicates that the employee was provided nonpecuniary wages prior to the date of injury but that does not indicate whether the employer is going to continue them or not, the carrier shall assume that the nonpecuniary wages are not being continued by the employer until and unless the carrier is able to verify that the nonpecuniary wages are being continued by the employer.

(g) In the event that the claimant or the carrier believes that the AWW computed by following the calculations in this rule does not reflect the true AWW, the claimant and carrier may enter into a written agreement on the AWW or request a benefit review conference.

Source Note: The provisions of this §128.2 adopted to be effective January 11, 1991, 15 TexReg 118; amended to be effective September 1, 1993, 18 TexReg 5213; amended to be effective May 16, 2002, 27 TexReg 4036

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