Kansas City workers' compensation lawyers address permanent disability benefits in this fourth post on frequently asked questions under the Missouri workers' compensation law.
Some common questions and answers regarding permanent disability and disfigurement:
Can I be compensated for permanent scarring due to a work injury?
The workers' compensation law provides that compensation of up to 40 weeks may be awarded for permanent scarring and disfigurement on the head, neck, arms and hands due to a work injury. The amount of compensation typically is assessed by an Administrative Law Judge and is discretionary on the ALJ's behalf. A good rule of thumb (but not binding by any means) is that ALJs typically will assess 1 week of compensation for each week of scarring on the arms or hands, and 2 weeks of scarring for each inch of scarring on the neck or face. Whether the scar is discolored or raised also is generally factored into the assessment and may increase the ALJ's assessment. In most cases involving surgery on the head, neck, arms or hands, there will be some scarring and therefore some disfigurement compensation due.
I was provided a disability rating by a doctor, what does that mean?
In most workers' compensation cases involving more than the most minor of injuries, the treating doctor (chosen by the employer and insurer) will provide a permanent partial disability rating. This disability rating (usually referred to as a PPD rating) is expressed as a percentage of disability at a certain level of the body. The PPD rating is used to calculate the amount of compensation due for your permanent partial disability.
Will I be compensated for permanent partial disability?
If the medical evidence supports a finding of permanent partial disability, then you should be compensated with a lump sum settlement for such disability. The PPD rating provided by the treating physician is not binding on you or the ALJ, and if you have an attorney your attorney may have you see another doctor to get a second opinion on your PPD (usually called an IME).
To calculate your lump sum settlement for PPD, you must take the disability rating (a percentage) multiplied by the value of the body part injured (in terms of weeks according to the schedule of injuries) multiplied by your PPD rate (2/3 of your average weekly wage up to a maximum).
For example 20% disability of the shoulder (232 weeks) at the max PPD rate ($425.19) would amount to $19,728.82 (.20 x 232 x $425.19).
What benefits are available if I am unable to return to work?
If after a work injury you are unable to return to any employment, you may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits (PTD). PTD benefits are paid as 2/3 of your pre-injury average weekly wage, up to a max, for the remainder of your life or the continuation of your disability. In some cases, PTD benefits may be the responsibility of the Second Injury Fund (SIF), specifically where preexisting disability combines with the last work injury to create the inability to return to any employment.
The Kansas City, Missouri workers' compensation law firm of Aaron Sachs and Associates has helped many injured Missouri workers through the workers' compensation system, to receive the permanent disability benefits they are entitled to. Call us today for a free assessment of your case.