Every year or if a material change in circumstances occurs, the WSIB may review a worker's future economic loss (FEL) benefits and may confirm, vary, or discontinue the benefits.
A worker receiving benefits under the insurance plan or who may be entitled to do so shall notify the WSIB of a material change in circumstances in connection with the entitlement within 10 days after the material change occurs.
The purpose of this policy is to outline how FEL benefits are reviewed prior to the final review.
Material change reviews
A worker who is eligible to receive benefits must report any material change in circumstances to the WSIB. Types of material changes to be reported include, but are not limited to, changes in:
- health (clinical) status
- earnings/income (including Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) disability benefits paid because of the work-related injury/disease)
- employment status, and
- availability for, or co-operation in, health care, return-to-work (RTW) activity, and optional insurance coverage.
A FEL benefit may be adjusted at any time prior to the final review for any material change or failure to report a material change which occurs on or after January 1, 1998. The adjustment to the FEL benefit is effective from the date the material change occurred.
For more information on what may be considered a material change, see 22-01-02, Material Change in Circumstances - Worker.
Material change in earnings
Significance test - 10% or greater
To determine if a change in earnings is “material”, the WSIB compares the recently reported net average earnings (NAE) with the NAE being used to pay the FEL benefit. If there is a significant change (increase or decrease) in the post-injury NAE, usually 10% or greater, it is considered “material”, and the WSIB adjusts the FEL benefit accordingly.
Each time new post-injury earnings are reported, the WSIB compares these to the earnings last used to actually adjust the benefit.
Exception - CPP/QPP disability benefits
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 requires that the WSIB have regard for any portion of the CPP or QPP disability benefits paid because of the work-related injury. As a result, the WSIB does not use the “significance test” in these cases, but offsets the FEL benefit by considering CPP or QPP as post-injury earnings. The WSIB offsets the amount of CPP/QPP disability benefits which exceed the amount the worker is determined to be able to earn after the injury, see 18-01-13, Calculating CPP/QPP Offsets from FEL/LOE Benefits.
CPP/QPP disability benefits are not offset from a FEL supplement.
Decrease in post-injury earnings that occur prior to the 60-month period
The WSIB may increase a worker’s FEL benefit only if the worker suffers a significant reduction in earnings, or is not able to earn, due to:
- a recurrence, see 15-02-05, Recurrences
- a deterioration in the impairment, see 18-05-09, NEL Redeterminations
- a job change related to the injury, or
- another situation directly related to the injury.
If the earnings decrease because of the work-related injury, the worker may also be entitled to RTW services, see 19-02-07, RTW Overview and Key Concepts.
If a worker requires a new RTW plan, the WSIB calculates the FEL benefit using the earnings of the suitable occupation (SO) at the completion of the plan, see 19-02-10, RTW Assessments and Plans.
Increase in post-injury earnings that occur prior to the 60-month period
The WSIB reduces a worker’s FEL benefit only if the worker:
- experiences a significant increase in earnings
- receives income that could be considered earnings from employment, or
- receives CPP/QPP disability benefits paid as the result of the work-related injury/illness. The WSIB offsets the amount of CPP/QPP disability benefits which exceed the amount the worker is determined to be able to earn after the injury, see 18-01-13, Calculating CPP/QPP Offsets from FEL/LOE Benefits.
Completion of RTW activities with the injury employer
If a worker has a wage loss upon completing RTW activities with the injury employer, the FEL benefit is based on the worker’s actual earnings, regardless of the job being performed, see 18-04-05, Initial Determination - Workers Who are Earning at Time of Determination.
Actual post-injury earnings are the worker's total salary remuneration from all employment (e.g., base salary from one or more jobs including production bonuses, shift premiums, overtime). A worker's post-injury annual earnings may include additional sporadic earnings and a review of the annual post-injury earnings should be considered to ensure that the appropriate benefit is paid.
Completion/Closure of RTW plan
The FEL benefit compensates workers for their future loss of earnings resulting from the work-related injury. The FEL benefit should be paid at the established SO earnings. The FEL benefit should not be increased if reduced earnings are related to economic conditions or the worker’s choice to be under-employed.
Employed in SO
If a worker is employed in the identified SO with the injury employer or a new employer, the WSIB uses the worker’s actual earnings to pay FEL benefits, even if the earnings are not consistent with updated labour market wage information.
Not employed in SO but instead comparable job
In some cases, a worker may return to work in a comparable job. FEL benefits may be paid based on the worker’s actual earnings provided this job is comparable to the SO-identified job with similar earnings expectations.
If a worker remains unemployed at the completion/closure of a RTW plan, FEL benefits are paid using the earnings the worker would earn if employed in the SO that was specified in the RTW plan.
A worker is considered to be under-employed when employed in such a way that does not permit the use of their full abilities, skills and training in mitigating the wage loss resulting from the work-related injury.
In some cases, a worker may return to the identified SO but at reduced hours or lower wages than what was projected. There is a need to examine why the earnings and/or hours have been reduced. This may be due to unforeseen aspects arising from the type of employment, or reflective of a probationary period, or changing work requirements/demands. If the WSIB is satisfied that the worker is not voluntarily under-employed, FEL benefits can be paid on actual earnings.
If the WSIB is satisfied that the worker chose to work fewer hours or at a lower earnings, FEL benefits will be paid at the SO earnings established as part of the RTW plan, rather than at actual earnings.
Periodic reviews without material change
If FEL benefits are paid for an extended period without a material change review, the WSIB may review the benefit to determine if it is being paid correctly. The extent and frequency of these periodic reviews depends on:
- the degree of the impairment
- whether the worker has returned to the workforce
- whether the worker is working within the identified SO, and
- the amount of the loss of earnings.
If, after the usual follow-up, a worker fails to respond to inquiries or to otherwise co-operate in a periodic review, the WSIB can withhold the FEL benefit until the worker contacts the WSIB or co-operates in the review, see 19-02-08, RTW Co-operation Obligations and 22-01-03, Workers' Co-operation Obligations.
Any change in entitlement resulting from the material change is effective from the date the material change occurred. If a debt results from the changed entitlement, the amount is calculated and considered due and owing retroactive to the date of the material change, see 18-01-04, Recovery of Benefit-Related Debts.
During a review, if the WSIB finds that a worker’s earnings are restored but the worker continues to have an impairment, the worker is entitled to a sustainability benefit, see 18-04-13, FEL Sustainability Benefit. This ensures that the worker can receive a FEL supplement if necessary. For information on the payment and review of FEL supplements, see 18-04-11, Supplements for Programs and Return-to-Work Activities Before and After 24 Months.
Wage guide information used at reviews
In cases where a worker is either not working or working in the SO but is voluntarily under-employed, if the WSIB originally used:
- entry-level wages to determine the post-injury earnings, updated entry-level wages are used, or
- mid-range wages to determine the post-injury earnings, updated mid-range wages are used.
FEL benefit duration
Electing the Old Age Security equivalent
A worker who:
- is at least 55 years of age when the WSIB determines or reviews the FEL benefit
- has not returned to work, and
- is unlikely, in the opinion of the WSIB to benefit from a RTW plan which could help the worker return to work,
may elect to receive an amount equal to the full monthly pension for Old Age Security (OAS), instead of a FEL benefit, if the worker meets the eligibility criteria set out in 18-04-09, Electing the OAS Equivalent.
0% non-economic loss
In some cases, a non-economic loss (NEL) review may result in a 0% rating which indicates there is no evidence of an assessable permanent impairment. FEL benefits continue until the worker is notified in writing and are paid to the end of the month in which the 0% NEL decision is rendered.
Workers are only entitled to FEL benefits until they reach age 65. By virtue of the monthly payment scheme, the benefit is payable to the end of the month in which the worker turns 65.
This policy applies to all FEL decisions made with respect to wage loss entitlement periods on or after March 1, 2021, for accidents from January 2, 1990 to December 31, 1997.
Policy review schedule
This policy will be reviewed in 2023.
This document replaces 18-04-14 dated January 2, 2015 .
This document was previously published as:
18-04-14 dated February 15, 2013
18-04-14 dated July 15, 2011
18-04-14 dated July 3, 2007
18-04-14 dated June 1, 2005
18-04-14 dated October 12, 2004
18-04-14 dated December 24, 2003
18-04-14 dated June 15, 1999
7.13 dated January 1, 1998.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, as amended
Sections 102, 106, 107, 108
Workers’ Compensation Act, 1990, as amended
Sections 22(1), 42, 43
#38, March 24, 2021, Page 590