Note: This Overview is intended to provide a general guide to Board policies and programs. It does not constitute official Board policy.
Generally, workers of a registered firm are eligible for financial compensation if they:
are injured or become ill due to an accident "arising out of and in the course of employment; and
suffer a loss of earnings as a result of the injury.
Workers’ compensation benefits are based on an earnings replacement system, meaning that an injured worker is paid a percentage of lost earnings for their time off work due to a compensable injury. Depending on the severity of the worker’s injury, the WCB may offer short-term or long-term financial benefits payable to the worker, plus medical aid and vocational rehabilitation required to treat and rehabilitate the worker.
The WCB uses normal weekly earnings to determine an initial earnings profile, which is used for the first 26 weeks of workers’ compensation benefits. In cases where a worker is injured longer than 26 weeks, the WCB collects more detailed earnings information to set a long-term earnings profile. Depending on the category of the worker’s employment (ie. seasonal, long-term/permanent, etc.), the WCB can utilize up to three years of earnings to determine a long-term earnings profile.
Maximum Insurable/Assessable Earnings
The Workers’ Compensation Board has a maximum insurable/assessable earnings based on a percentage of the average industrial wage for the Province of Nova Scotia. The maximum insurable/assessable earnings for 2003 is $41,800.
In order to be eligible for temporary earnings-replacement benefits, an injured worker must undergo a waiting period or deductible. As a result, 2/5ths of the injured worker’s net weekly compensation rate will be deducted from their first compensation cheque. If an injury results in a loss of earnings for more than five calendar weeks, the deducted amount will be reimbursed.
Short-term Benefits (TERB)
If an employee suffers a compensable injury at work, and experiences an earnings loss for more than a period equivalent to 2/5ths of their net weekly compensable benefit, the employee is entitled to temporary benefits. Temporary Earnings Replacement Benefits (TERB) are based on 75% of the worker’s net earnings prior to the loss of earnings due to the accident (up to the maximum insurable earnings). After 26 weeks, the Temporary Earnings Replacement Benefit increases to 85% of the worker’s net earnings loss. These benefits are paid every two weeks for as long as a worker is medically unable to return to work.
Long-term Benefits (EERB, PIB)
The Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Act”) provides for a dual compensation system which recognizes that, an injured worker may suffer both a permanent injury and, therefore, a loss of physical ability, as well as a loss of earnings ability. If a worker suffers a permanent injury due to a work-related injury or occupational disease, the worker is entitled to a permanent medical impairment (PMI) assessment. This assessment is used to determine the injured worker’s Permanent Impairment Benefit, (PIB). The Permanent Impairment Benefit is a life-long award made to injured workers to compensate them for their physical loss due to accident. The PIB is usually paid as a lump sum, but may be paid periodically.
An Extended Earnings Replacement Benefit (or EERB) compensates a worker for a percentage of the long-term loss of earnings due to their injury. The WCB determines the difference between an injured worker’s pre-accident earnings and post-accident earnings (actual and estimated) to arrive at their compensable earnings loss. This benefit is only payable to injured workers whose compensated loss of earnings is greater than the amount of their Permanent Impairment Benefit. The worker is then compensated for a percentage of this difference - generally 85%. This benefit is paid to workers until they are 65 years old, at which time it is replaced by an annuity. The level of an EERB is reviewed 36 months after it is established, and may also be reviewed at 60 months.
Apportionment of Benefits
Under the Act, benefits are payable only for the proportion of a worker’s permanent impairment or loss of earnings which can reasonably be attributed to a work-related injury. If some proportion of the worker’s permanent impairment or long-term loss of earnings has resulted from a cause other than the work-related injury or a disease or disability which existed prior to the work-related injury, the level of Permanent Impairment Benefits and Extended Earnings Replacement Benefits may be reduced.
An amount equivalent to five percent (5%) of total Extended Earnings Replacement Benefits and Permanent Impairment Benefits are set aside to provide an annuity. The annuity is meant to compensate for the loss of retirement income, and is calculated from the date the worker started receiving long-term benefits until the worker reaches age 65. Once the worker reaches age 65, this Annuity may be paid either as a monthly benefit or as a lump sum, depending on the amount payable.
The Supplementary Benefits Program provides additional benefits to workers with permanent disabilities who were injured prior to March 23, 1990. To be eligible for supplementary benefits an injured worker must:
a) have had a work-related injury before March 23, 1990;
b) be under the age of 65;
c) be receiving, or eligible to receive, a CPP/QPP disability pension for the work-related injury;
d) have a total personal annual income below one-half the average industrial wage for Nova Scotia as prescribed by regulation; and
e) be receiving periodic compensation.
The amount of a Supplementary Benefit is the amount necessary to increase an applicant’s individual annual personal income to an amount equal to one-half of the average industrial wage for Nova Scotia.
Combining Worker's Compensation Benefits
Under the Workers Compensation Act, a ceiling is placed on the level of earnings an injured worker can receive while on compensation. This level is generally equal to 85 percent of the net maximum assessable earnings in place the year the injury occurred. If, due to previous claims that an individual may have with the Board, their total WCB benefits exceeds this ceiling, their most recent benefit award would be reduced by the excess amount.
Policies with respect to earnings replacement benefits (short- and long-term), permanent impairment benefits, apportionment of benefits and annuities, as well as former Act pensions and Supplementary Benefits, follow.