Temporary Disability vs. Permanent Disability
Whenever an employee is injured on the job, the financial impact of being off work can be devastating. California’s Workers’ Compensation program provides two benefits designed to give financial assistance to the injured worker during the time he or she is unable to work, or in more serious situations, the financial assistance may be permanent. If you are injured on the job, it is important for you to understand how these benefits work, and what they mean to you and your situation.
Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability
Temporary Disability is broken down into two categories: Temporary Partial Disability and Temporary Total Disability.
- Temporary Partial Disability benefits are paid to you if you are able to perform some work while recovering from your injury or illness, but you now earn less than you did prior to being injured. This could take the form of either working reduced hours or assuming less strenuous job responsibilities for which you are paid a lower wage.
- Temporary Total Disability, on the other hand, is available to you if you are not able to work at all during the recovery process.
How Temporary Disability Works
If you are injured on the job and collect temporary disability (TD), you can expect to be paid about two-thirds of the pre-tax wages you were receiving at the time of injury (subject to the minimum and maximum rates set by California Workers Compensation laws). The claims administrator takes into consideration any type of income when calculating your TD benefits, including: wages, food, lodging, tips, commissions, overtime and bonuses.
Once your worker’s compensation doctor determines that you can no longer perform your usual job requirements for more than three days (or if you were hospitalized overnight), your temporary disability payments will begin, and you will receive a check every two weeks.
Temporary Disability, However, is Temporary. As the title suggests, temporary disability is not permanent, and will not last forever. There are three events that signal the end of your temporary disability payments:
- You return to work;
- Your doctor releases you to return to work (whether or not you actually return), or
- Your doctor states that your illness or injury has improved as much as it’s going to.
Workers’ Compensation Permanent Disability
If your medical condition has stabilized but you still have lasting pain or limitations caused by your work related injuries, you may be eligible to receive long-term permanent disability benefits.
In order to qualify for permanent disability benefits in California, your doctor needs to determine that you have reached your “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). This means that the doctor believes that any additional medical treatment will likely not improve your condition over the next year, and that your condition is so physically or mentally debilitating that you will likely not be able to work in any capacity.
Workers’ Compensation Total Permanent Disability
Total disability generally applies only to the most serious injuries, for example: blindness in both eyes, or the loss of the use of both legs or arms. If it is determined that you qualify for total permanent disability, you will receive lifetime payments in the same amount as the temporary disability benefits that you were receiving.
Workers’ Compensation Permanent Disability Rating
Whether you are considered to be permanently partially disabled or permanently totally disabled, the amount of benefits you receive are calculated based upon a “Permanent Disability Rating.”
The Permanent Disability Rating process is initiated by the medical report submitted by your physician. You can dispute his report, in which case you and your employer will select an impartial doctor, or a “qualified medical evaluator,” who will evaluate you.
The medical report sets forth any physical or mental limitations that you still have as a result of your injuries. Based upon this report, your case goes through a rating process. This rating process uses a formula adopted by the Worker’s Comp system, which takes into consideration your age, occupation and ability to earn wages in the future.
Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney may be the wisest move you can make in terms of protecting your rights and receiving the benefits you are entitled to. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist you at every turn, from determining how to file a claim, to reviewing the doctor’s report to determine whether or not to dispute the findings, to helping you select a qualified medical examiner. The worker’s compensation process is not easy to understand or to navigate, and the assistance of a worker’s comp attorney can be invaluable. Our Long Beach office has a number of experienced professionals that can guide you and protect your rights and benefits.
Long Beach Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you were injured or made ill in the workplace, we recommend that you speak with an experienced workers comp lawyer immediately. Even if you are currently receiving workers comp benefits, it is a good idea to get some legal advice to protect your rights going into the future.
An experienced workers compensation attorney can help you identify minor issues before they become major problems – and make sure that you not only receive your benefits now, but for years to come.
Your consultation with our workers’ comp attorneys is 100% confidential, and neither your employer nor your insurance company will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our lawyers will help you understand your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum workers’ compensation benefits for which you qualify.