Workers Compensation in Wisconsin

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Posted December 7th, 2018 by Jason Metz

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

Workers comp insurance typically pays some lost wages and the medical bills for an employee who's hurt while doing a job-related task. Work injuries that can be covered by workers comp range from stress and anxiety to breathing problems to broken bones.

Wisconsin workers compensation law specifies many details of who can be exempt from coverage, who must be covered and the limits of workers comp payments. Below are many of the specifics contained in the workers comp law in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development also has a page with helpful information for employers.

Who has to be covered by Wisconsin workers compensation?

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

Yes - corporate officers, sole proprietors and children on family farms can.

Is self-insurance for workers comp allowed in Wisconsin?

Yes, for individual employers and political subdivisions. Political subdivisions in Wisconsin 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 that employ fewer than three workers. Employers, other than farmers, who usually have less than three employees, but who have paid $500 or more in any calendar quarter for work performed within the state, are covered the 10th day of the next calendar quarter.

Agricultural employers? Yes, farms do not need coverage unless they have six or more employees on any day 20 days in a calendar year; certain relatives are not counted when determining the number of employees.

Domestic employers? Yes, domestic servants are excluded from the definition of employee in the law and are not covered by workers comp.

Independent contractors? Yes.

Casual employees? Yes.

Volunteers? Yes.

Professional athletes? No.

Wisconsin workers comp medical benefits

Is there a Wisconsin 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 employee.

Disability payments for workers compensation insurance in Wisconsin

Workers comp generally helps replace some lost income when an employee cannot work because of a work-related injury. Based on both permanent and temporary disability, state laws stipulate the limits on disability payment amounts and lengths.

How are temporary total disability (TTD) payments calculated?

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

Weekly minimum: TTD rate may be set as restricted part-time at 100% of earnings.

Weekly maximum: $936

Maximum length of TDD benefits: For the length of TTD.

How are permanent total disability (PTD) payments calculated?

66 ⅔% of the employee's pre-injury wage, subject to a minimum and maximum.

Weekly minimum: N/A

Weekly maximum: $936

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

Maximum length of PTD benefits: For the length of disability and can be for life.

How are permanent partial disability (PPD) payments calculated?

66 ⅔% of the employee's average weekly wage, subject to a minimum and maximum.

Weekly minimum: $20

Weekly maximum: $322

Fatality benefits under Wisconsin workers compensation law

Maximum burial benefit: $10,000

Dependency benefits, weekly maximum: $936

When do children's dependency benefits end? At age 18; if the child is disabled, benefits can continue past age 18 but may not continue for more than a total of 15 years.

Other injuries covered by Wisconsin 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.

Source: Workers Compensation Research Institute, May 2016 report