We granted petitions for certiorari to review the judgments of separate panels of the Court of Appeals in Dailey v. Industrial Commission, 651 P.2d 1223 (Colo.App. 1982), and Engelbrecht v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., 652 P.2d 1105 (Colo.App.1982). Both panels held that under section 8-51-101(1)(c), C.R.S., cost-of-living increases to federal social security disability benefits may be deducted from state workers' compensation payments. We reverse the judgments of the Court of Appeals, and remand both cases.
The petitioners, Stanley Dailey and Alvin Engelbrecht, were injured in work-related accidents and consequently receive state workers' compensation benefits; both also receive federal social security disability benefits. Cost-of-living increases to social security benefits have augmented their original social security awards.
The sole question before us is whether cost-of-living increases are "periodic disability benefits" within the scope of section 8-51-101(1)(c), which provides:
The petitioners assert that cost-of-living increases are not paid to compensate for a disability; rather, cost-of-living increases maintain the purchasing power of the original disability benefit and, therefore, are not periodic disability benefits. The respondents contend that cost-of-living increases are mere additions to the periodic disability benefits and are included in the statute as periodic disability benefits.
Statutes susceptible to more than one interpretation must be construed in light of the apparent legislative intent and purpose. Section 2-4-203, C.R.S.; U.M. v. District Court, 631 P.2d 165 (Colo.1981); Mooney v. Kuiper, 194 Colo. 477, 573 P.2d 538 (1978); In re Questions Submitted by United States District Court, 179 Colo. 270, 499 P.2d 1169 (1972). The purposes of the Workmen's Compensation Act are to protect employees who suffer injuries arising out of their employment and to give injured workers a reliable source of compensation. Bellendir v. Kezer, 648 P.2d 645 (Colo.1982); Frohlick Crane Service, Inc. v. Mack, 182 Colo. 34, 510 P.2d 891 (1973); Vanadium Corp. of America v. Sargent, 134 Colo. 555, 307 P.2d 454 (1957). Section 8-51-101(1)(c) reflects the intent of the General Assembly to prevent double awards (payment of the full amount of social security and workers' compensation for the same disability). See Hurtado v. CF & I Steel Corporation, 168 Colo. 37, 449 P.2d 819 (1969); Myers v. Colorado, 162 Colo. 435, 428 P.2d 83 (1967). In view of these purposes, we conclude that social security cost-of-living increases may not be deducted from workers' compensation payments. Allowing an injured worker to keep his cost-of-living increase better protects the worker and gives him a more reliable source of income. In addition, a cost-of-living increase does not result in a double award. The federal government has decided that it will maintain the buying power of social security payments, not that it will provide additional benefits for a particular injury. Because Colorado does not provide benefits to keep pace with inflation, there is no double payment.
In Bellendir v. Kezer, 648 P.2d 645 (Colo.1982), we upheld the absence of an escalation of benefits provision in the Workmen's Compensation Act. We expressed our opinion that the Act does not best fulfill the social and economic objectives it was designed to achieve, but that there is a rational basis for failure to provide for escalation of benefits to keep pace with inflation in that a formula calculating awards to an injured worker at the time of injury allows all parties to determine with some degree of certainty the amount of compensation to which the worker is entitled. However, allowing an insurer to deduct one-half the cost-of-living increase each time one occurs, and thus decrease the amount the insurer owes, is not consistent with the goal of determining with certainty the amount owed.
Therefore, we reverse the judgments of the Court of Appeals and remand these cases to the Court of Appeals with directions to return them to the Industrial Commission for entry of an order disallowing deductions in the amount of social security cost-of-living increases from workers' compensation payments.
Judgments reversed and cases remanded.