What are Temporary Total Disability Benefits?

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. Given the complexity of temporary total disability benefits, this article will focus solely on this type of workers’ compensation benefit.

Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD): This may be the workers’ compensation benefit most injured workers are familiar with. That said, they often do not understand all the nuances of TTD. In a nutshell when someone experiences an admitted work place injury that brings about work restrictions prescribed by a doctor that precludes the injured worker from returning to work, then they are entitled to this benefit.

One important caveat to this benefit is that when a work place injury does occur, the employer is entitled to provide the injured worker with accommodating work. What this means is that if your position for the employer is a more physical job and you get injured resulting in work restrictions that preclude you from performing those tasks for a period of time, the employer has the right to offer you a position that is consistent with your work restrictions. The example I often use is a construction worker getting hurt on a job site that precludes him from lifting heavy objects so the employer gives the injured worker a desk job at the office for a period of time. In this circumstance, if the construction worker refuses accommodating work (i.e. the desk job) then they are precluded from receiving Temporary Total Disability Benefits.

Other common factors that will affect your TTD benefits include being released to work without restrictions, retiring from your job, and failing to search diligently for work. It may come to a surprise to many that the workers’ compensation insurer can discontinue your TTD benefits for inadequate job searches. That’s why it is important to understand that if your employer lets you go because they are unable to accommodate your restrictions then it is the employee’s responsibility to search for work that is within their work restrictions. Failing to do so may result in a discontinuance of TTD benefits.

It’s also important to understand that in the world of workers’ compensation, TTD benefits are also 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. After this date, the workers compensation insurer is entitled to discontinue your TTD benefits 90 days following the date of MMI.

Another important aspect of TTD benefits is understanding the amount the employee is entitled to receive. TTD benefits are 2/3’s of your gross average weekly wage. While wage issues in workers compensation cases can be an article all of its own, I will simplify for the sake of discussion. If you make $12/hr. and work 40 hours a week, then your average weekly wage $480.00 and two-thirds of that amount is $320.00. As such, your compensation rate is $320.00 and that is what you would get paid each week you are off work as the result of a work injury. It’s also important to note that the duration of TTD benefits does not exceed 130 weeks for each date of injury.

Please send any request for topic suggestions to rene@breenandperson.com. 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.