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Workers Compensation in Missouri

Jason Metz

Missouri requires all businesses to have workers comp insurance for employees, with only a few exceptions.

Workers comp insurance generally pays a portion of lost income and the medical bills for an employee who's injured while doing a work-related task. The types of injuries that can be covered by workers comp range from breathing problems to muscle injuries to burns.

Missouri workers compensation law details who must be covered, who can be exempt from coverage, as well as the limits of workers comp payments. Below are many of the specifics contained in the workers comp law in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations also has a page with helpful information for employers.

Employees covered by Missouri workers compensation law

Can any employees opt out of Missouri workers compensation with a waiver?

Yes - corporations with no more than two officers of the corporation who are the only employees may withdraw from workers' compensation provisions by filing a notice of election to be withdrawn with the Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation. Written waivers may be filed with the Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation by employees and employers who are members of a recognized sect or religion defined in 26 USC Section 1402 (g).

Is self-insurance for workers comp allowed in Missouri?

Yes, for individual employers and groups of employers. Political subdivisions can self-insure but cannot provide coverage for other entities. Political subdivisions in Missouri are typically the state or a city, county, special district, school district or public agency.

By self-insuring, a business assumes responsibility for paying their own workers comp claims. A self-insured company typically hires a claims service company to handle claims administration and other services.

Are there exclusions for:

Small employers? Yes, for employers who employ fewer than five employees. In construction, all employers must be covered.

Agricultural employers? Yes, performing "farm labor" only. The Missouri workers' compensation law does not apply to employment of farm labor. Missouri courts have interpreted the term "farm labor" according to its customary and ordinary usage. This interpretation does not exclude workers from the jurisdiction of the workers' compensation law, who would otherwise be included in the definition of the term "agriculture." Agriculture is broader than farming.

Domestic employers? Yes. The Missouri workers' compensation law does not apply to work done in private homes to care for the members of private households.

Independent contractors? No. Independent contractors may be ruled to be "statutory employees" under Sec. 287.040 RSMo, depending upon the particular facts shown.

Casual employees? No.

Volunteers? Yes.

Professional athletes? No.

Missouri workers comp medical benefits

Is there a Missouri workers comp fee schedule?


Fee schedules define payments for surgery, radiology, hospital services, chiropractic care, ambulance service, prescription drugs and other medical services for an injured worker.

Are there limits on medical treatment?


Who makes the initial choice of treating physician?

The employer.

Disability payments for workers compensation insurance in Missouri

Workers comp typically pays a worker a portion of their income when they cannot work because of a job-related injury. Based on both temporary and permanent disability, state law specifies the limits on the disability payment length and amounts.

How are temporary total disability (TTD) payments calculated?

66 2/3% of the employee's pre-injury average weekly wage (AWW), subject to a minimum and maximum.

Weekly minimum: $40

Weekly maximum: $886.92

Maximum length of TDD benefits: 400 weeks.

How are permanent total disability (PTD) payments calculated?

66 ⅔% of the employee's average weekly wage (AWW), not to exceed 105% of the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW).

Weekly minimum: $40

Weekly maximum: 105% of SAWW, however, there are some exceptions. For example, employees diagnosed with "occupational diseases due to toxic exposure" may have a weekly maximum of 200% of SAWW.

Are there cost of living increases for PTD payments? No.

Maximum length of PTD benefits: No maximum length.

How are permanent partial disability (PPD) payments calculated?

Wage difference or medical impairment rating if injury is "scheduled."

Weekly minimum: No minimum.

Weekly maximum: $468.63

Fatality benefits under Missouri workers compensation law

Maximum burial benefit: $5,000

Dependency benefits, weekly minimum: $40

Dependency benefits, weekly maximum: $886.92, however, there are some exceptions. For example, employees diagnosed with "occupational diseases due to toxic exposure" may have a weekly maximum of 200% of SAWW.

When do children's dependency benefits end? At age 18; age 22 if the child is a full-time student; benefits can continue for life if child is disabled.

Other injuries covered by Missouri workers compensation

Mental stress with no physical injury? Yes.

Cumulative trauma (such as injuries caused by repeated exposure or repetitive motion)? Yes.

Occupational hearing loss? Yes.

Disfigurement? Yes. Disfigurement coverage is restricted to head, neck, hands and arms.

Source: Workers Compensation Research Institute, May 2016 report