What is a Permanent Partial Disability Rating?

There are many confusing concepts in the workers’ compensation laws, none more confusing than Permanent Partial Disability ratings. Today’s article will hopefully provide some insight on this topic and avoid some uncertainty and anxiety if you are currently dealing with a work injury and will have to deal with one in the future.

Workers’ compensation in the state of Minnesota is what we call a “no-fault” system. That means that so long as you are injured while on the job, the injury should be compensable as a work injury. I often deal with injured employees who want to point the finger at the employer saying they did something wrong and that’s how they got hurt. My response is that it’s not required to show that the employer was acting negligently, or unreasonable, at the time of injury. That is what it means that it’s a “no-fault” system.

That obviously makes workers compensation a lot easier to qualify for, but there are some tradeoffs. The biggest being that workers’ compensation does not account for pain and suffering as the result of an injury. That’s a very common term you hear in personal injury cases, but it does not apply to work injuries in Minnesota.

So what does all this have to do with a Permanent Partial Disability rating? Well, I like to look at this concept as conciliation to pain and suffering in a work injury. Commonly called a PPD rating, this takes into account certain work injuries and gives them a rating, depending on the severity. The higher the PPD rating, the more compensation you will receive.

The PPD ratings are based on the Rules Governing Workers’ Compensation Practice and Procedure. The PPD ratings will typically be assigned by the injured workers’ treating physician when the injured worker is not treating for the work injury.  A common work injury I see is a low back injury. If a low back injury requires surgery, this will almost always result in a PPD rating. In addition, PPD ratings account for range of motion limitations as well as loss of strength or feeling as a result of a work injury. As such, it is important to relay any limitations you are having with your physician so that the proper PPD rating will be assigned.

The PPD ratings are merely a product of Minnesota workers’ compensation law and not an actual reflection of how disabled an employee is as a result of the work injury. This is what produces the greatest frustration with my clients and their workers’ compensation claims. They experience a work injury and now they’ve got limitations not only at work, but outside of work. The work injury takes a toll on their family life as well as hobbies. Unfortunately, I commonly see PPD ratings not equal to the actual loss the employee has as the result of the work 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.