One of the most complex facets of this area of the law is the view of permanent partial disability benefits (PPD). What is a permanent partial disability? This type of disability is one that an individual will not be able to completely recover from, but it is not a disability that will stop you from returning to work.
Permanent Partial Disability and MMI
When an employee suffers a severe work injury during the typical course of a work day and within the scope of the job duties, the result of the injury can be weeks, months, or years of treatment by medical professionals. After the medical professionals have done everything they can do to help the individual heal and recover as much as possible, the individual will have reached a stage of healing known as maximum medical improvement (MMI).
This means that the individual’s medical condition has stabilized and future functional improvement is not likely. Permanent partial disability benefits are paid to those who are not fully disabled, but there is an injury that is considered long-term. This type of disability will limit individuals in the type of work they will be able to perform.
Employees injured on the job qualify for PPD benefits if they have loss of function, an amputation, damage to hearing and/or vision, and a permanent impairment. Also, injuries that result in permanent scars or disfigurements due to cuts, burns, fractures, etc. could also lead to a worker qualifying for PPD benefits.
Permanent Impairment Rating
After an individual is treated for injuries and reaches maximum medical improvement, the medical professional who provided the treatment will conduct an additional examination to determine the injured individual’s functionality. This functionality will be rated on a scale from 0 to 100. The medical professional will refer to the guidelines that have been set by the Department of Labor and Industry, under Chapter 5223.
The final rating is referred to as an impairment rating, which is generally a percentage of the loss of functionality or use of the body part(s) that are injured. The percentage will ultimately be used to indicate the severity of the impairment. The permanent impairment rating is critically important factor in the determination of PPD benefits an individual is eligible for.
How Will The Benefits Be Calculated?
Permanent partial disability benefits are based on the percentage of disability instead of solely on wages. Once the Permanent Impairment Rating has been determined, the rating will be multiplied by the average weekly payment the employee earned before the impairment and multiplied by the number of weeks that are allowed under Minnesota law.
For example, if Jessie sustained a herniated disc in his lumbar spine, and he received a rating of 10 percent on the Permanent Impairment Rating scale, the benefit owed to Jessie could be over $8,000. There will be some cases where an insurance company will pay a small amount of PPD benefits if there are any objections or questions whether the individual could qualify for a rating that is higher than what was given by the medical professional.
Will Additional Benefits Be Available?
In some cases, individuals who receive PPD benefits are eligible to receive other types of benefits. Some of the benefits an individual may be eligible for will include the following:
- Wage loss benefits, including Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD), Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD), Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits
- Medical benefits
- Rehabilitation benefits
Within these benefits, an individual could be eligible to receive mileage payments to and from doctor and therapy visits. You may also be eligible to collect more than one type of wage loss benefits at the same time. Essentially, total disability benefits pay 2/3 of the weekly wages an individual was learning before the accident. Partial disability benefits will cover 2/3 of the difference between what you earned before you were injured and the wages you may earn after the injury.
If you are injured while at work and you cannot return to your job at 100 percent capacity, or at any capacity, you could be eligible for wage loss benefits. Your doctor must have given you work restrictions that limit your ability to work due to the injury. Some common restrictions include you having limited ability when it comes to moving, standing, pushing, lifting, etc.
How Long Can I Collect Benefits?
How long you will be able to collect wage loss benefits will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the type of wage loss benefits you have been approved for, the date you return to work, and the date your doctor expects you to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). Permanent partial disability benefits can be payable in weekly increments or in a lump sum.
Determining the type of benefits you can claim and how much you could be eligible to receive can be extremely daunting and complex. Every claim is different, but you will not be eligible to receive benefits until you have reached MMI and your medical doctor has signed the forms verifying your status. There is not specific timeframe for how long the process could take.
An experienced law team can take the burdens and stress off your shoulders during this process so you will be able to focus on getting better and possibly returning to work. Returing to work will not end your PPD benefits. Once you begin receiving your PPD benefits, you will continue receiving it whether you return to full duty or light duty at your place of employment.
If you have been trying for an extended period of time to receive compensation, or if you have realized how difficult it can be to take on this challenge alone, we encourage you to seek assistance. Whatever your situation may be, you need an experienced team on your side.
We are here to help you. Do not hesitate to contact Patterson Dahlberg Injury Lawyers for a consultation. We want to gain a clear understanding of the depth of your situation, and we want to assess your needs because we want to get the best results for you.