What Factors Determine Permanent Disability Benefits?
After a workers’ compensation injury, many employees are able to fully recover and return to work. However, some injured workers are impaired to the point where they can no longer be employed in their field. Have you suffered a workplace injury that prevents you from working? You may be eligible for permanent disability benefits through the workers’ comp system. There are many factors that determine if you qualify and the amount of your benefits you can receive.
Here is a brief overview of how the permanent disability benefits process works:
Maximum Medical Improvement
In order to receive permanent disability benefits for your workers’ compensation injury, you must first prove that your disability is permanent. This requires a qualified medical examiner (QME) to document that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Maximum medical improvement in the workers’ compensation system means that your condition is stable and that your QME does not believe it will improve significantly within the next year. The doctor then creates an MMI report that confirms that your disability is permanent under this definition. This report is essential to receive benefits.
Your MMI report does not only affirm that you have reached maximum medical improvement. It is also an evaluation of your level of disability. This is given as a rating or percentage score and this will determine how much you can receive in permanent disability benefits. Since this report is so crucial in determining what benefits you receive, it’s important you choose the right doctor.
In order to determine the percentage value of your permanent disability, the doctor will examine your well-being as a whole. Some injuries qualify as total disability, meaning your percentage is 100% and you will receive permanent disability payments at your temporary disability rate indefinitely. Total disabilities include full paralysis, loss of sight in both eyes, or severely lowered mental capacity. Less severe medical conditions are considered partial disabilities and your total payments will rely on your doctor’s evaluation of your impairment.
Permanent Disability Final Payment Value
After you apply for disability through the workers’ compensation system, a claims adjuster reviews the MMI report from your doctor and determines a final value for your disability payments. This factors in the disability rating as well as your age and occupation. The final decision will determine how much your weekly benefits are and how long you will receive them.
In California workers’ comp is generally two-thirds of your average weekly wages. However, California also has a minimum and maximum total weekly payment for partial and permanent disability. Since 2014, the minimum amount is $160 and the maximum is $290 a week.
If your workers’ compensation injury resulted in a permanent disability, you need the most benefits possible to support yourself and your family. At the Law Offices of Bo Katzakian, we have extensive experience with permanent disability cases. We will work with you to get a favorable MMI report and get you the most disability benefits possible.