Average Defense Base Act Settlement Amounts

dba settlement amounts

Working as a civilian overseas in military theaters for the United States takes a certain type of person. As a hardworking and patriotic American, you probably dislike being dependent on anyone, let alone receiving disability benefits. But accidents and injuries do happen when working near military operations. The Defense Base Act (DBA) covers injuries for civilian contractors working for the United States. If you want to learn more about the DBA and its application, check out our DBA Claim FAQ page. If you are already considering a DBA claim, keep reading to learn more about how Defense Base Act settlements are calculated. 

What is the Average DBA Claim Settlement Amount?

It is almost impossible to give an average for DBA settlement amounts. The nature and extent of your injury will determine how much and for how long you will receive benefits. To determine your potential settlement amount, you’ll need to speak with an attorney.

How Are Defense Base Act Wage Benefits Calculated?

DBA claims pay wage benefits are calculated based on the category of the injury. There are four injury categories:

Permanent Total Disability

A permanent total disability is an injury that has stabilized at a maximum recovery level and you are still unable to do the job you had prior to your injury or any other related lighter work.

The benefits are two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW) for as long as the disability lasts (in this case a lifetime). With permanent disability, your AWW will be periodically adjusted for cost of living through a government formula.

Temporary Total Disability

A temporary total disability is an injury that prevents you from doing any work (your original job or related lighter work) for a period of time.

The benefits for a temporary total disability are two-thirds of AWW for as long as the disability lasts (in this case a fixed time).

Permanent Partial Disability

If your injury has stabilized at a maximum recovery level and you can return to work (perhaps lighter related work), but you still cannot do the job you had prior to your injury, you will be considered to have a permanent partial disability.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWC) includes a schedule that outlines the benefits for certain types of injuries. (e.g., the loss of a hand would provide a certain payout for a certain period of time; the loss of hearing would provide a different payout for a different period of time). If the injury is not covered by the schedule, then you are paid two-thirds of AWW that represents the difference between your current wages and your pre-injury AWW (e.g., if your AWW was $15/ hour and post-injury it is $12/hour, the difference is $3/hour and two-thirds would be $2/hour. The $2/hour would then be multiplied out to determine the total benefit). In this case, benefits would be for a lifetime and periodically adjusted for cost of living through a government formula.

Temporary Partial Disability

If your injury prevents you from doing your job while it is healing but you can do lighter work in the meantime, you may receive temporary partial disability benefits.

The benefits are two-thirds of AWW that represents the difference between your current wages and your pre-injury AWW (same as the permanent partial disability example). In this case, benefits would be for a fixed period of time.

As you can see, there are significant differences in wage benefits depending on how your injury is categorized.

How Are Defense Base Act Medical Benefits Calculated?

All medical expenses related to your injury are paid under the Defense Base Act. Medical expenses include costs incurred for the initial treatment and all future and ongoing expenses. In addition, medical expenses are paid so long as they are needed and reasonably related to the DBA injury.  Generally, the following expenses are covered by the DBA:

  • Hospitalization, 
  • Emergency services,
  • Surgeries,
  • Diagnostics and testing,
  • Transportation,
  • Physical therapy
  • Vocational therapy, and
  • Counseling.

The above list is not complete. If you have expenses that are not on the list, do not hesitate to include them in your DBA settlement amounts.

How are Defense Base Act Death Benefits Calculated?

If a loved one is killed and qualifies for DBA benefits, it will pay wage benefits to the surviving spouse or a single child at one-half of AWW, or two-thirds of AWW if there are two or more beneficiaries (e.g., the surviving spouse and a child). These benefits may be payable for life and will be periodically adjusted for cost of living. In addition, the DBA will pay funeral expenses of up to $3,000.

How Are Defense Base Act PTSD Settlements Calculated?

Defense Base Act PTSD benefits are addressed separately because they do not neatly fit into any category or time table. In general, PTSD is covered by the DBA through wage and medical expense benefits.

Reporting Requirements for Defense Base Act PTSD Claims

Normally, to receive DBA benefits a claim must be made with the U.S. government within one year of an injury. However, PTSD may not manifest itself within one year of the actual event. Fortunately, under the LHWC, PTSD is usually defined as an “occupational injury.” As such, it must be reported within one year of when you become aware (or should have been aware) of the relationship between the PTSD and your employment. This standard is distinctly different. The timeline is based on awareness of the connection and not on the injury event itself. On the flip side, sometimes PTSD can be defined as a traumatic injury. In that case, the reporting limit is the same as the standard reporting period for physical injuries. You should consult an attorney skilled in the DBA to help you with any DBA PTSD settlements and filings.

Benefits Available for Defense Base Act PTSD Claims

More than likely, any wage benefits for PTSD will be categorized as either permanent partial disability or permanent total disability. However, it is critical that you consult with trusted professionals regarding your PTSD to best calculate the impact of the disorder on your life.

Grossman Law Can Help You Obtain Maximum DBA Benefits

Grossman Attorneys at Law has represented thousands of DBA cases and is intimately familiar with claim filings and DBA benefit analysis and submissions for Defense Base Act settlements. Contact us now to learn more about how we can help with your claim.

Department Of Labor Worker’s Compensation National Average Wages​ (Section 10(F))​

FISCAL YEAR PERIOD NAWW MAX MIN PERCENT INCREASE
FY22 10/01/2021 – 09/30/2022 $863.49 $1,726.98 $431.75 5.77%
FY21 10/01/2020 – 09/30/2021 $816.35 $1,632.70 $408.18 4.65%
FY20 10/01/2019 – 09/30/2020 $780.04 $1,560.08 $390.02 3.26%
FY19 10/01/2018 – 09/30/2019 $755.38 $1,510.76 $377.69 2.65%
FY18 10/01/2017 – 09/30/2018 $735.89 $1,471.78 $367.94 2.46%
FY17 10/01/2016 – 09/30/2017 $718.24 $1,436.48 $359.12 2.17%
FY16 10/01/2015 – 09/30/2016 $703.00 $1,406.00 $351.50 2.10%
FY15 10/01/2014 – 09/30/2015 $688.51 $1,377.02 $344.26 2.25%
FY14 10/01/2013 – 09/30/2014 $673.34 $1,346.68 $336.67 1.62%
FY13 10/01/2012 – 09/30/2013 $662.59 $1,325.18 $331.30 2.31%
FY12 10/01/2011 – 09/30/2012 $647.60 $1,295.20 $323.80 3.05%
FY11 10/01/2010 – 09/30/2011 $628.42 $1,256.84 $314.21 2.63%
FY10 10/01/2009 – 09/30/2010 $612.33 $1,224.66 $306.17 2.00%
FY09 10/01/2008 – 09/30/2009 $600.31 $1,200.62 $300.16 3.47%
FY08 10/01/2007 – 09/30/2008 $580.18 $1,160.36 $290.09 4.12%
FY07 10/01/2006 – 09/30/2007 $557.22 $1114.44 $278.61 3.80%
FY06 10/01/2005 – 09/30/2006 $536.82 $1073.64 $268.41 2.53%
FY05 10/01/2004 – 09/30/2005 $523.58 $1,047.16 $261.79 1.59%
FY04 10/01/2003 – 09/30/2004 $515.39 $1,030.78 $257.70 3.44%
FY03 10/01/2002 – 09/30/2003 $498.27 $996.54 $249.14 3.15%
FY02 10/01/2001 – 09/30/2002 $483.04 $966.08 $241.52 3.45%
FY01 10/01/2000 – 09/30/2001 $466.91 $933.82 $233.46 3.61%
FY00 10/01/1999 – 09/30/2000 $450.64 $901.28 $225.32 3.39%
FY99 10/01/1998 – 09/30/1999 $435.88 $871.76 $217.94 4.31%
FY98 10/01/1997 – 09/30/1998 $417.87 $835.74 $208.94 4.33%
FY97 10/01/1996 – 09/30/1997 $400.53 $801.06 $200.27 2.38%
FY96 10/01/1995 – 09/30/1996 $391.22 $782.44 $195.61 2.83%
FY95 10/01/1994 – 09/30/1995 $380.46 $760.92 $190.23 3.06%
FY94 10/01/1993 – 09/30/1994 $369.15 $738.30 $184.58 2.38%
FY93 10/01/1992 – 09/30/1993 $360.57 $721.14 $180.29 3.03%
FY92 10/01/1991 – 09/30/1992 $349.98 $699.96 $174.99 2.61%
FY91 10/01/1990 – 09/30/1991 $341.07 $682.14 $170.54 3.26%
FY90 10/01/1989 – 09/30/1990 $330.31 $660.62 $165.16 3.83%
FY89 10/01/1988 – 09/30/1989 $318.12 $636.24 $159.06 3.13%
FY88 10/01/1987 – 09/30/1988 $308.48 $616.96 $154.24 1.92%
FY87 10/01/1986 – 09/30/1987 $302.66 $605.32 $151.33 1.69%
FY86 10/01/1985 – 09/30/1986 $297.62 $595.24 $148.81 2.69%
FY85 10/01/1984 – 09/30/1985 $289.83 $579.66 $144.92 [5.71%]2
FY84 10/01/1983 – 09/30/1984 $274.17 $548.341 $137.09 4.51%
FY83 10/01/1982 – 09/30/1983 $262.35 $524.70 $131.18 5.64%
FY82 10/01/1981 – 09/30/1982 $248.35 $496.70 $124.18 8.87%
FY81 10/01/1980 – 09/30/1981 $228.12 $456.24 $114.06 7.03%
FY80 10/01/1979 – 09/30/1980 $213.13 $426.26 $106.57 7.43%
FY79 10/01/1978 – 09/30/1979 $198.39 $396.78 $99.20 8.05%
FY78 10/01/1977 – 09/30/1978 $183.61 $367.22 $91.81 7.21%
FY77 10/01/1976 – 09/30/1977 $171.27 $342.54 $85.64 7.59%
FY76 10/01/1975 – 09/30/1976 $159.19 $318.38 $79.60 6.74%
FY75 10/01/1974 – 09/30/1975 $149.14 $261.00 $74.57 6.26%
FY74 10/01/1973 – 09/30/1974 $140.36 $210.54 $70.18 6.49%
FY73 11/26/1972 – 09/30/1973 $131.80 $167.00 $65.90

Source: US Department of Labor​

1Maximum became applicable in death cases (for any death after September 28, 1984) pursuant to LHWCA Amendments of 1984. Section 9(e)(1) provides that the total weekly death benefits shall not exceed the lesser of the average weekly wages of the deceased or the benefit which the deceased would have been eligible to receive under Section 6(b)(1). The maximum death benefit provision took effect on the day after the 1984 amendments were enacted. Therefore, for the two day period of September 29 and 30, 1984, the maximum rate of $548.34 is applicable, provided it is less than the average weekly wage of the deceased.

2Limited to a maximum of 5 percent under the provisions of Section 10(f) as amended by the LHWCA Amendments of 1984.

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