U.S. Department of Labor Announces Increase in Maximum Benefit Rate for Defense Base Act Claimants

The United States Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has confirmed the increase in cost of living adjustments for all beneficiaries receiving death benefits and permanent total disability compensation benefits under the federal Defense Base Act. As of October 1, 2019, the maximum benefit rate increases by 3.26% to $1,560.08. This 3.26% increase is the largest percentage increase in benefits since fiscal year 2009.


 Section 10(f) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, as extended by the Defense Base Act controls this issue. This section states in pertinent part:

(f) Effective October 1 of each year, the compensation or death benefits payable for permanent total disability or death arising out of injuries subject to this Act shall be increased by the lesser of —

(1) a percentage equal to the percentage (if any) by which the applicable national weekly wage for the period beginning on such October 1, as determined under section 6(b) [33 USC § 906(b)], exceeds the applicable national average weekly wage, as so determined, for the period beginning with the preceding October 1; or

 (2) 5 per centum.

The Department of Labor’s updated maximum compensation rate can be found here, and here.

If you have a pending Defense Base Act claim for death compensation benefits or permanent total disability compensation benefits and do not receive an increase in your benefit rate, contact us for a free claim assessment.