The Basics of Permanent Partial Disability Benefits in Your Workers’ Compensation Case
When most people think of workers’ compensation benefits, they picture them in the manner in which most people use them—medical care and wage loss benefits for a temporary period while injuries heal. Once the individual returns to work or reaches maximum medical improvement, benefits are stopped, and that’s that—except in certain cases when a permanent disability dictates benefits beyond the standard time frame.
When an Injury Stays With You for Life
Unlike a broken arm, which will usually heal fully or nearly so, there are some injuries that will permanently affect an individual’s ability to work. These injuries typically include the loss of a limb, extremity, or eye, but may also include injuries that lead to permanent job restrictions.
In these cases, once you have reached your maximum medical improvement, your doctor will assess your level of disability and assign you a disability rating. This will determine how much money you will receive each week and for what length of time you are eligible to receive this payment, known as permanent partial disability (PPD). You will then be able to determine whether you would like to accept your PPD in weekly increments or in one lump sum.
The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to PPD benefits is that, unlike other disability benefits, you are not required to be totally unable to work in order to receive these payments. The theory behind this is that your disability limits you from doing the same work as before, so your PPD payments bridge the gap between your earning potential prior to your injury and your earning potential following your permanently disabling injury.
Don’t be misled by the word “permanent” however—PPD benefits are usually limited by your disability rating and the body part that is disabled. This means that someone who lost their left pinky will receive PPD benefits at a lower rate and for a shorter period of time than a person who lost the use of their entire left arm; the person who permanently lost their pinky will likely work at a similar level after they heal, while someone who lost total use of an arm will be much more limited.
Have you been denied PPD benefits, or are unsure if you are eligible to receive these benefits? Houston workers’ compensation attorney Steve Lee can help you—simply call his office today to schedule a free consultation.