New Wave of Virus Claims Hit California Workers’ Comp

January 14, 2021

A California Workers’ Compensation Institute analysis of claims reported to the state Division of Workers’ Compensation as of Jan. 11 shows that the number of COVID-19 claims in the California workers’ compensation system more than tripled between October and November, then jumped another 64.2% to a record 23,483 claims in December.

A new CWCIU projection shows that the December total could climb to 37,573 cases once claims that are yet to be filed or still under investigation are added to the tally.

The latest figures show that after falling to a six-month low in September, monthly COVID-19 claim counts started trending up in October as a wave of coronavirus cases hit the state. Not all November and December claims have been reported, but the initial data from those months shows that as of Jan. 11, the DWC had recorded 14,298 COVID-19 claims with November injury dates, and a record 23,483 COVID-19 claims from December, according to the analysis.

That year-end surge pushed the number of COVID-19 claims reported to the DWC for accident year 2020 to 93,470, which is 15.7% of all 2020 claims reported to the state, though with the recent spike, that proportion rose to 28.7% of all work injury claims reported for November and 47.4% of all claims reported for December, according to the CWCI.

The AY 2020 COVID-19 claim count includes 464 death claims, which is up 21.7% from the 381 death claims reported as of Dec. 28. That means COVID-19 death claims accounted for nearly half of the 966 work-related death claims recorded by the state for AY 2020, CWCI stated.

“Additional year-end claims continue to be filed, and CWCI’s projected COVID-19 claim count based on historical claim development that accounts for delays in COVID-19 claim reporting estimates that ultimately there will be 16,872 claims from November, and 37,573 claims from December, far surpassing the previous monthly record of 15,537 COVID-19 claims projected for July,” CWCI’s analysis states.

CWCI members and research subscribers also can access a detailed summary of the results in the CWCI Bulletin on the institute’s website.