What To Know About Permanent Disability And Workers' Comp

Posted on: 19 July 2016

What to Know About Permanent Disability and Workers' Comp

While you certainly appreciate the workers' comp benefits you've been receiving, the partial wages may not be enough to pay your bills and you may be wondering what could happen if you don't soon return to your job. It stands to reason, the more severe your workplace injury the longer your recovery time. If you have not been able to return to work in a timely manner after your injury, you may facing a particular type of injury and your workers' comp benefits could be in for a change. Read on to learn more about the four steps to the determination of permanent disability.

1. The Initial Benefit: Medical Expenses and Lost Wages

During this initial phase of workers' comp, your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages are being paid to you through your employer's workers' comp insurance plan. You must continue to seek medical treatment, since medical care is not simply a benefit of workers' comp, but a requirement. Being able to stay home and rest is a very valuable perk of workers' comp, so take advantage of it and budget your partial wages carefully.

2.  The Independent Medical Exam

If you have not returned to work after a reasonable amount of time, you may be asked to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME). What a reasonable amount of time is varies depending on your injury, your job duties and other factors. If your injury was immediately known to be catastrophic, such as a spinal injury, the IME would be requested fairly quickly. Most injuries, however, take some time to fully heal and the insurance company has guidelines to follow on how quickly a given injury should take to heal.

3.  Maximum Medical Improvement

The IME doctor will determine one of two possible outcomes: that you need more time to heal from your injuries before you return to work or that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) status. MMI means that your injury is not expected to continue to improve enough for you to return to your job, no matter how much more time is given for recovery. The determination of MMI usually means that you have been deemed to have a permanent injury, and your workers' comp coverage will now be converting to a different set of benefits.

4.  The Settlement

The workers' comp insurance company will offer you a settlement, which can be a weekly amount for your lifetime or a lump-sum. This determination also means that you can apply for Social Security Disability benefits, if you have worked enough in your lifetime. If you have managed your workers' comp claim up to now without professional legal help, you may now need an attorney to assist you with settlement negotiations. The settlement amount must be sufficient for the remainder of your life, so getting a fair settlement is vital. Contact a workers compensation attorney as soon possible.