If you sustained an injury at work and were unable to fully recover, you might receive a permanent disability rating. The rating measures the extent to which your injuries limit the type of work you can do. Ultimately, it determines whether you are eligible to receive permanent workers’ compensation disability benefits.
In this article, we will explain how the permanent disability rating system works. To learn more about permanent disability, contact Dewberry Law today. We can help you get the disability benefits you deserve.
What Is Permanent Disability?
Permanent workers’ compensation disability benefits are available to support you after a work-related injury or illness. Your doctor must verify that your health has stabilized, but you can’t return to work for the next year. This determination is called “maximal medical improvement” (MMI).
Permanent disability benefits cover you after your temporary disability benefits have ended with a MMI determination. Permanent disability compensates you for injuries suffered on the job that have left you with lasting physical or mental pain. You receive the benefits if it’s apparent you won’t get better for at least a year even with treatment.
California recognizes two categories of permanent disability benefits:
- Total Permanent Disability. These benefits apply if your work-related injury or illness renders you unable to work for the rest of your life. Total permanent disability benefits are rarely provided because they cover extreme, catastrophic injuries such as total blindness or paralysis.
- Partial Permanent Disability. These benefits are more common because they apply to all other permanent disability cases.
What Is a Permanent Disability Rating?
How much you are compensated depends on whether your permanent disability is total or partial. To be eligible for total permanent disability benefits, you must have a permanent disability rating of 100%. The amount will be the same as your temporary disability benefits. This is typically two-thirds of your pre-injury average weekly pay. You will receive total permanent disability benefits for life.
Partial permanent disability has a permanent disability rating of anything less than 100%. The amount and duration of your disability payments depends on your permanent disability rating. Partial permanent disability benefits generally come to about two-thirds of your average weekly pre-injury pay. However, you’ll receive these benefits for a limited time based on the date of your injury and your permanent disability rating.
How Is Permanent Disability Rated?
Your permanent disability rating is determined using a formula that accounts for the doctor’s report’s findings, as well as your age and occupation. The process for determining permanent disability ratings starts with a medical report your doctor writes that describes the permanent limitations you have from your work-related injury. So, it will detail how much range of motion you’ve lost in a certain part of your body. Or, the extent of any loss of normal psychological functioning you’ve suffered.
If you have previous medical conditions that were aggravated by your work-related injury, your doctor will “apportion” your permanent disability. The doctor’s report will determine what percent of your permanent disability resulted from your new injury versus your old injuries.
If anyone disagrees with the doctor’s report, a qualified medical evaluator (QME) may provide a second opinion. The QME’s opinions can carry a lot of weight with the judge presiding over your workers’ comp case.
How Can I Challenge My Permanent Disability Rating?
You might want to challenge your permanent disability rating if you think it is too low. After all, your permanent disability rating plays a huge role in the amount of benefits you receive.
If you don’t have one already, seriously consider hiring an experienced workers’ comp attorney. They will help you during the permanent disability rating process and challenge an erroneous rating. Without an attorney, you risk accepting a lower permanent disability rating and less benefits than you deserve.
One way a Pasadena CA workers’ comp attorney can help to change your rating is by writing your employer’s insurer about your doctor’s report. Immediately after reviewing the doctor’s report, your attorney should let the insurance company know in writing about any mistakes. Your attorney can also help you request a reconsideration of your rating.
Learn More About Permanent Disability Rating
If you’re seeking permanent disability benefits and expecting a permanent disability rating, we can help. Call an experienced Pasadena CA workers’ compensation attorney at Dewberry Law today to learn more about permanent disability as well as the permanent disability rating system.