Labor Code Section 4659(c) requires that, for workers injured on or after Jan. 1, 2003, permanent total disability (PTD) and life pension payments be increased on Jan. 1, 2004 and every January 1st thereafter based on changes in the California state average weekly wage (SAWW).
The exact text of the subsection is: "(c) For injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2003, an employee who becomes entitled to receive a life pension or total permanent disability indemnity as set forth in subdivisions (a) and (b) shall have that payment increased annually commencing on January 1, 2004, and each January 1 thereafter, by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the "state average weekly wage" as compared to the prior year. For purposes of this subdivision, "state average weekly wage" means the average weekly wage paid by employers to employees covered by unemployment insurance as reported by the United States Department of Labor for California for the 12 months ending March 31 of the calendar year preceding the year in which the injury occurred."
The SAWW for the twelve months preceding March 31, 2003 is $790.50, and for the twelve months preceding March 31, 2002 it is $794.95. Thus the SAWW has actually decreased by $4.45 or .56 percent. As there is no provision for a decrease in rates, no change in PTD or life pension rates will be required on Jan. 1, 2004 under Labor Code Section 4659(c).
SAWW rates may be verified at these US Department of Labor web pages:
Average SAWW for the twelve months preceding March 31, 2002: http://atlas.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum02/1stqtr/finance.asp#California.
Average SAWW for the twelve months preceding March 31, 2003: http://atlas.doleta.gov/unemploy/content/data_stats/datasum03/1stqtr/finance.asp#California.