How Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Calculated For Unpaid Volunteers?


Posted by: Chris

If an injured worker qualifies for workers’ compensation, the numberof benefits he will receive will depend partly on his average weekly wage. For example, an injured worker who qualifies for temporary total disability benefits will receive 70% of his average weekly wage, not exceeding 70% of the state’s average weekly wage. It’s not hard for a salaried or hourly worker to calculate their average weekly wage, but what about an unpaid volunteer? Here’s what you should know about workers’ compensation benefits for unpaid volunteers:

Do All Unpaid Volunteers Qualify For Workers’ Compensation?

First, it’s important to understand which unpaid volunteers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits after a work-related injury. In Oklahoma, most volunteers are not covered by the workers’ compensation system. The exceptions include:

  • Voluntary firefighters
  • Voluntary peace officers
  • Voluntary emergency management workers
  • Members of the Oklahoma National Guard responding to state orders

These volunteers are not compensated for their work, but they are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer work-related injuries.

How Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Calculated For Unpaid Volunteers?

The benefits awarded to unpaid workers who qualify for workers’ compensation will depend partly on how much the worker earns in his regular job.

For example, let’s say a volunteer firefighter is injured and qualifies for temporary total disability benefits. He is an unpaid volunteer, but he is also a full-time salaried office worker who earns $40,000 per year. This $40,000 salary will be used to calculate his workers’ compensation benefits even though he was not injured at his office job.

To calculate his average weekly wages, divide his salary by 52, which is the number of weeks in a year. Based on this calculation, the volunteer firefighter earns $769.23 per week. The law states that he is entitled to 70% of his average weekly wage, which means he should receive $538.46 per week in temporary total disability benefits. 

If the volunteer’s salary was $50,000 per year, his average weekly wage would be $961.54, and he would be entitled to 70% of this average, which is $673.08. However, the state’s average weekly wage in 2019 is $867.71 and 70% of this average is $607.40. Injured workers cannot receive more than 70% of the state’s average weekly wage, regardless of how much they earn. Therefore, the volunteer in this example would receive $607.56 in weekly benefits rather than the amount calculated using his salary.  

Have you sustained a work-related injury? If so, seek legal representation from the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. We will work tirelessly to ensure you are awarded workers’ compensation benefits as quickly as possible. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll-free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.