When a person experiences a work place injury they are often confused as to what types of benefits they may be entitled to. Quite often I get phone calls and walk-ins wanting some guidance on what an accepted workers’ compensation claim entitles the injured worker to. This article will focus solely on temporary partial disability workers’ compensation benefit.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD): Temporary partial disability benefits are those benefits an injured worker receives when they return to work, but at reduced hours or wages. This could be with the same date of injury employer or it could be an entirely different employer. There are a couple common scenarios in which TPD benefits occur. First, is when an injured worker is on time reduced work restrictions (i.e. working no more than 4 hours per day). If this is the case, the workers’ compensation insurer is required to pay the injured worker the difference between what they were making at the time of the injury and what they are making at reduced hours.
The second common scenario is when the injured worker is precluded from working for the date of injury employer due to work restrictions and seeks employment elsewhere. A common example is when an injured worker has a physically demanding job and suffers a work injury that reduces him/her to a more sedentary job. In this instance, if the injured worker is making less money than what they were making when they got injured, the workers compensation insurer is required to pay the difference. This will continue until so long as the injured worker is on work restrictions and is capped at 225 weeks.
It’s also important to understand that in the world of workers’ compensation, many benefits are affected by what is termed “Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)”. MMI is a complex concept, but is defined as “the date after which no further significant recovery from or significant lasting improvement to a personal injury can reasonably be anticipated.” This is the long way of saying the moment when the doctor tells you that there isn’t anything additional they can do to help you improve from your work injury and issues permanent work restrictions. As I’ve stated in an earlier article, temporary total disability benefits are terminated 90 days following the date of MMI. However, it is important to note that TPD benefits are NOT affected by MMI. This is maybe the most crucial distinction between TPD and TTD benefits and one that is often missed by the injured worker. It is also one that workers compensation insurers often fail to communicate to the injured worker. As such, maybe the most important piece of advice I give my clients is when they receive a letter from the workers compensation insurer stating they are at MMI and TTD benefits will cease in 90 days-go find a job, even if it’s a reduced hours or wage from your date of injury employer.
Please send any request for topic suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Although we cannot give you legal advice through the column, we can provide some general information that may be helpful for you to know. Our purpose is to educate and we hope that you can take something new away from this column each time you read it.