Workers’ Compensation Benefits – How Much Can You Get?

Work injury claimIf you’ve suffered an injury from a work-related incident, the question of benefits and how big of a compensation you can get has probably entered your mind. Injured employees are eligible to get one of four types of compensation:

  • payment of their medical bills
  • permanent (lifetime) impairment benefits
  • weekly compensation
  • vocational rehabilitation

Compensation for pain and suffering not included

Worker’s compensation laws function more like basic income protection laws. This means that you won’t receive compensation for any pain or suffering that you might have experienced. An injured worker receives benefits because he is incapacitated and cannot work. If the pain is substantial enough that the employee cannot return to work, he or she will most likely receive financial compensation on a weekly basis. Those who want to receive compensation for their pain and suffering should consider hiring a personal injury attorney.

Weekly compensation benefits

Employees who cannot work because of their injury-related disabilities receive weekly benefits. The length of the compensation differs with each state and depends on the kind of benefit they’re bound to get. Law has two types of classification for disability: 1) it can be either temporary (short-term) or permanent (for a lifetime) or 2) total disability or partial disability. From these two types we get four types of disability benefits that an injured employee can benefit from:

  • temporary partial disability
  • temporary total disability
  • permanent partial disability (not all states allow this however)
  • permanent total disability

Difference between temporary and permanent disability

Temporary disability is defined by the law as a state of recovery, in which the employee is expected to get better after a certain period of time. Permanent disability is when the condition is permanent (stable) and is not expected to improve. Medical professionals also refer to permanent disability as point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). A patient who is in this state doesn’t mean that he/she has fully recuperated. MMI means that the condition is not expected to improve over time.

Difference between total and partial disability

Partial disability means that the worker can still perform some light duty activities, something that isn’t too intense/taxing on the body. Total disability means that the worker cannot perform at any kind of job, that is, he or she is completely disabled.

How long can I receive weekly compensation benefits?

I get asked this a lot and it’s hard to answer without knowing your specific case details. One of the biggest determining factors is the state you’re in. The length of time that you can receive workers’ comp for an injury varies from state to state. Generally, you’re looking at a time range anywhere from 3 to 7 years . Permanent disability benefits do not have a predetermined limit however some states stipulate that an employee can no longer receive weekly benefits when he/she reaches the age of 65. As noted above, few states provide permanent partial disability compensation.

How can I find out my weekly benefits?

Weekly benefits for workers with total disability is usually sixty percent or two thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage (abbreviated as AWW) before he sustained his injuries. AWW is taken to be the employee’s earnings plus overtime – calculated for a period of time before the injury (up to 52 weeks) and then divided by the same number of weeks. However, the maximum weekly benefit is capped in most states at approximately $1000 per week, regardless of the individual’s AWW.

For workers with partial disability, the formula changes a bit. Since a worker on partial disability is able to perform light duty tasks or part time, you can find out your partial disability benefits by reducing your pre-injury AWW by your current wages or earning capacity. So if your AWW before the injury was $1000 and your current earning capacity is $450 and your state of disability is 50% of AWW, your partial disability rate would be:

.5 x (1,000 – 450) = .5 x 650 = $325 per week.

Other options

If the employee is diagnosed with a permanent physical disability, he/she would be eligible to receive permanent impairment benefits.

Payment of medical bills is another option that employees are entitled to.

Lastly, there is vocational rehabilitation. This is basically job retraining. If an employee has been injured and he/she cannot continue in the same line of work, workers’ compensation in most states will also include the cost of retraining for a new job.

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