Wages: Wages Defined

Cornelius v. Lumbermen's Underwriting Alliance [08/07/12] 2012 MTWCC 29 Where Respondent raised no argument that Petitioner’s “service-for-service agreement” in which she exchanged work for veterinary services, the fact that Petitioner, subsequent to trial, did receive wages for post-trial work she performed for the veterinary clinic does not change her eligibility for TTD benefits.  However, if the parties cannot agree on which post-trial weeks Petitioner received wages which would obviate Respondent’s liability for TTD benefits for specific weeks, the parties may raise this matter in a new petition before this Court.

Dostal v. Uninsured Employers' Fund [02/16/12] 2012 MTWCC 5 Where the claimant contended she received no remuneration for the work she performed for a business owned by her ex-husband and where the UEF presented no evidence that the claimant received any sort of “wage” within the meaning of § 39-71-123, MCA, the Court concluded that no evidence supported a  determination that the claimant received anything of value which would constitute “wages” in exchange for the work she performed for the business.

Briese v. Ace American Ins. Co. [02/20/09] 2009 MTWCC 5 Where Petitioner received employer contributions to his 401(k) plan for the four pay periods preceding his injury and Petitioner withdrew funds from the 401(k) post-injury, the Court determined that § 39-71-123 (2)(b)(I), MCA, unambiguously excludes funds paid to a retirement or pension by an employer for an employee from the definition of “wages.”
Briese v. Ace American Ins. Co. [02/20/09] 2009 MTWCC 5 Where Petitioner accrued vacation pay prior to his injury that was paid post-injury, the definition of “wages” found in § 39-71-123, MCA, excludes vacation benefits not paid prior to the injury.
Montana Municipal Insurance Authority v. Roche [11/14/07] 2007 MTWCC 47 Whether or not a business is profitable has no bearing on whether the proprietor received a wage from the business. What determines “wages” is not whether something was treated as income for federal tax purposes. The determining fact is whether the recipient experienced real economic gain. In the present case, the claimant paid for his personal automobile insurance, a cell phone he uses for both business and personal use, and made payments on personal loans using the business’ checking account. This constitutes a wage as defined in § 39-71-123(1)(d), MCA.
Hand v. UEF [07/26/07] 2007 MTWCC 33 Where Petitioner was given twenty-five head of breeding cattle in lieu future wage increases, and provide pasture year round, hay in the winter, medical supplies, veterinary services and breeding bulls for the cattle, the Court concludes that the value of the calves born from the twenty-five head of cattle are not wages for the purpose of determining Petitioner’s total disability rate. Although Petitioner benefitted economically from the sale of the calves, this was the result of Petitioner’s own efforts and wisdom in managing the cattle, just as if he had prudently chosen to invest a cash bonus rather than spending it in the year it was received. However, the value of the year-round pasture, winter hay, medical supplies, veterinary services, and breeding bulls provided by Petitioner’s employer are considered wages because they constitute a substitute for money.
Negethon v. Montana State Fund [12/14/06] 2006 MTWCC 40 Petitioner's unemployment benefits cannot be considered wages under § 39-71-123, MCA, and therefore cannot be used in calculating his average weekly wage for purposes of workers' compensation benefits.
State of Montana v. Terry Weyer [05/31/06] Lewis and Clark County District Court [WCC Headnotes] Section 39-71-123(1), MCA, defines “wages” in pertinent part as all remuneration paid for services performed by an employee for an employer, or income provided for in subsection (1)(d). Subsection (1)(d) applies to a sole proprietor or partner. The owner and sole shareholder of an S corporation is not a sole proprietor and thus subsection (1)(d), which includes income in the form of a draw, does not apply to the defendant, who, as the owner and sole shareholder of an S corporation, received TTD benefits and also received draws from the corporation without performing any services for the corporation. Thus, these draws are not considered “wages.”
State of Montana v. Terry Weyer [05/31/06] Lewis and Clark County District Court [WCC Headnotes] The definition of “wages” found in § 39-71-123(1), MCA, is disjunctive.