If you have ever been injured on the job, you know the difficulties of collecting workers’ compensation. Depending on the injury, even after a period of recovery, a worker may be unable to perform the same job in the future.
If you have been injured in the workplace, you may be considering filing for workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Malman Law are here to explain the different types of permanent disabilities and how each injury can affect the benefits you receive.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission classifies injuries in terms of temporary versus permanent, and partial versus total.
A temporary disability will improve after a certain amount of time, allowing an employee to eventually return to their job.
Conversely, a permanent disability means that the employee will not be able to return to the activities he or she performed prior to the injury. A permanent disability may require an employee to pursue a different line of work or even keep them out of the workforce entirely.
A partial disability may cause an employee to need accommodations to perform the routine tasks of their position, while a total disability will inhibit an employee from being able to work.
There are four categories of workers’ compensation disabilities:
A worker that has a temporary partial disability (TPD) would have a temporary injury that prevents him or her from returning to their normal job. If you have a TPD, you may be moved to another job with easier tasks, or you may be working your normal job on a part-time basis.
An employee is eligible to receive TPD benefits until returning to his or her regular job. If you are unable to return to your normal position, then benefits will end once your condition improves to a point in which you no longer can get any better, known as maximum medical improvement.
An employee is considered to have a temporary total disability (TTD) if the worker suffers a temporary injury that prevents him or her from performing any type of work, even lighter tasks.
Also, you may be eligible to receive TTD benefits if you are able to perform lighter tasks but your employer is unable to accommodate your needs.
A worker is considered to have a permanent partial disability if they have experienced the following:
Workers’ compensation would be paid for a permanent partial disability only if the injury resulted in some permanent physical impairment or loss.
Many workers who suffer from a permanent partial disability are able to take a lower-paying job with less physically demanding tasks.
This might involve the permanent and complete loss of any of the following:
It can also involve a complete disability that leaves the employee permanently unable to do any kind of work.
As you can see, permanent total disability is the most severe. Workers who have a permanent total disability will be unable to provide for themselves and will need aid from the state.
An employee has reached maximum medical improvement once his or her condition is no longer able to improve, despite further treatment. Maximum medical improvement, or MMI, can only be determined by a physician.
A physician will need to give the employee a physical examination to make an informed decision. Once an employee reaches MMI, then workers’ compensation benefits may be terminated if they had an injury that removed them temporarily from work or may continue for the rest of their life if they have a permanent total disability.
Employees are eligible to receive 66 2/3% of their average weekly wage (AWW), with minimum and maximum limits in place. In some cases, like a permanent total disability, these benefits can last for the rest of your life.
Since permanent partial disability (PPD) often causes an employee to move to a lower-paying position but does not necessarily keep them out of the workforce, the state has to calculate accordingly.
For employees receiving permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, there are four ways that compensation can be calculated according to Illinois’ Worker’s Compensation Act:
If an employee takes a lower paying job, then the compensation will be calculated by taking the AWW of the lower-paying position and subtracting it from the AWW of the higher-paying position prior to the injury. The employee will receive 66 2/3% of the salary difference between the two jobs.
The Workers’ Compensation Act sets certain values for each body part. According to the schedule of injuries calculation, you are only eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation for a certain number of weeks based on each body part.
If an employee loses complete use of a body part, or the limb or digit is amputated, then that is considered a 100% loss. For example, an employee is eligible to receive PPD benefits for 76 weeks for a thumb injury which entirely prevents the use of the thumb.
If the employee is earning $750 per week as their average weekly wage, then the number of weeks will be multiplied by 60% of the employee’s AWW. So:
Next, the $450 will be multiplied by the number of weeks of benefits allowed (76 weeks):
If the employee’s condition is not listed on the schedule of injuries, then benefits may be calculated based on how the injury affects the body’s whole function.
A determining factor for the person as a whole calculation is what percentage of function the person has lost. If you hurt your back from lifting heavy boxes on the job, then this calculation may be used in your particular situation.
Let’s say an employee earns $300 each week. $300 will be multiplied by 60% of the employee’s AWW.
If the injury causes the employee to lose 20% function, then that percentage will be multiplied by the 500 weeks that the worker may be eligible to receive benefits:
The PPD weekly benefit will be multiplied by the number of weeks to determine the total PPD benefit amount:
An employee who suffers any type of disfigurement affecting his or her appearance or any injury to the arms, hands, or either leg below the knee, is entitled to 162 weeks of PPD benefits.
The 162 weeks are multiplied by 60% of the AWW to calculate the total PPD benefit.
Workers’ compensation is not taxable income. Employees receiving benefits do not need to include the weekly amounts on their federal or state tax returns.
Being injured on the job can bring many challenges. You already have the stress of medical expenses and immobility. On top of everything, you should not be dealing with the aggravation of missed paychecks.
If you have experienced a work-related injury, you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney by your side. Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.