How Long Can You Stay on Workers’ Comp?
Employees who suffer work-related injuries are eligible to receive workers’ compensation — often abbreviated “workers’ comp” — to satisfy medical needs, replace missed wages, and eventually return to work as a healthy, restored team member. Understanding available workers’ comp benefits is critical in helping injured employees receive appropriate care.
Workers’ comp benefits can begin even before employees file necessary claims, though specific terms depend on the circumstances and severity of the injury, and an employee’s capacity to eventually return to work. Your first check can arrive in weeks, though some payments take as long as a month to arrive.
The duration of an employee’s workers’ comp depends on a variety of factors, from severity of injury to state laws governing benefits and settlement terms. Though workers’ comp is useful in helping employees address short and long-term health issues resulting from workplace injuries, it is ultimately a temporary solution. Readers seeking more permanent workplace injury compensation should consult information on disability benefits to locate the best individual option for your conditions.
Workers’ Comp vs. Disability Benefits
Though workers’ compensation and disability benefits are unique, they are often confused because of similar and shared features. Much like disability benefits, workers’ comp payments cannot be stopped without valid reasoning. And of course, both disability and workers’ comp are dedicated to the short and long-term health of any employee affected by workplace injury or illness.
Differences between workers’ comp and disability benefits begin with the degree of overall coverage. While workers’ comp strictly covers work-related injuries or illness, disability offers coverage that can extend well outside of the workplace, addressing a wide range of syndromes, disabilities, illnesses, and injuries.
Qualifying individuals can receive both disability insurance and workers’ comp, provided that the employee meets all criteria for both payments. However, Social Security disability insurance payments often depend on the amount of workers’ comp received, so layering full payments likely isn’t a plausible option.
Types of Disability Benefits
Employees are eligible to receive different types of disability benefits based on their individual circumstances. The extent of the injury typically helps determine the extent of the coverage.
Total vs Partial Disability
If a workplace injury has left an employee completely unable to work, that employee often receives total disability benefits. Conversely, partial disability is paid to any employee permanently impaired as a result of a workplace injury, but still able to work in a limited capacity.
Short and long-term disability benefits are provided to employees who qualify based on conditions. Short-term disability benefits are offered to any employee who will require assistance until illness or injuries subside enough that they can return to work. On the contrary, qualifying employees receive long-term disability insurance payments if they are unable to work because of injury or illness, for an extended or permanent amount of time.
Long-term disability claims can be submitted for any of the following issues:
- Anxiety or depression;
- Cardiovascular problems;
- Brain injury;
- Skin disorders;
- Immune system disorders;
- Respiratory illnesses;
- Cases of COVID-19.
Long-term disability offers assistance to individuals suffering from long-term issues, to subsidize income and improve quality of life.
Impairment Rating Evaluation
Before workers’ comp, short or long-term disability insurance payments are distributed, impairment rating evaluations help providers determine the extent of an employee’s issues. Approved medical practitioners, employed independently from any of the parties involved, examine employees to gauge the extent of illness or injury, before helping all parties determine the best path forward.
After the evaluation is completed by the medical professional, impairments are assigned a rating — on a scale of 0 to 100 — to best represent how much the conditions will compromise an employee’s ability to work over time. Impairment rating evaluations help directly determine which disability benefits an individual is eligible to receive, and how long compensation might last as a result.
How Long Can You Be on Temporary Disability?
Much like disability payments, temporary disability benefits last as long as circumstances require.
How Long Does Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Last?
Temporary total disability (TTD) means that an employee has been rendered physically unable to work, while he or she recovers. Your doctor may make a temporary total disability diagnosis if you sustain an injury that makes it impossible for you to work, but only temporarily. An example of a TD-injury would be if you threw out your back. Though not permanent, the injury may prevent you from engaging in any type of work for a prolonged period of time. If this is the case, you may continue to receive benefits until one or more of the following occurs:
- You return to full-time work.
- Your doctor determines that you are able to return to work.
- Your physician determines that you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement.
- You have reached the state maximum for benefits, which varies considerably, from 52 weeks (in Idaho) to the duration of the disability (Michigan).
Some states cap their benefits, while many follow the “two-thirds of gross pay” formula. If your state follows the latter formula, you may receive up to two-thirds of your regular pay each week until the termination of benefits.
How Long Does Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Last?
A temporary partial disability is one that requires medical care but does not prevent the injured party from performing some type of work. For instance, say you tripped over a neglected object and broke your leg. You still have the option to return to work. Although, you would be limited in what you can do until your leg heals.
In this situation, you may choose to return to work but for fewer hours and at a lower hourly rate. TPD benefits would help offset the reduction in income until you are able to return to full-time, regular work. If your employer is not able or willing to find “light-duty” work for you, you may continue to receive TPD benefits until you find light-duty work elsewhere, or until you can return to regular work.
Both temporary total and temporary partial disability benefits can vary, depending on location and the nature of an employee’s disability. States often set individual parameters around requirements necessary to qualify for TTD and TPD payments, so make sure you consult state-level standards if you’re looking to receive temporary disability benefits.
How Long Does Permanent Partial Disability Last?
Permanent disability benefits will last as long as necessary, depending on an employee’s individual condition. A permanent partial disability is one that renders a worker unable to ever perform his or her regular work again. For example, say you sustain carpal tunnel after working as a transcriptionist for 20 years. You may never be able to work a computer job again. However, you may be able to find other work that does not involve the repetitive use of your wrists.
States take one of four approaches when determining the amount and extent of PPD benefits an injured person may receive:
- Impairment-Based: This is the most common approach and involves basing benefits entirely off the degree of impairment.
- Wage Loss: Under this method, states calculate benefits based on how much in ongoing or actual wage losses a worker incurs.
- Loss-of-Earning-Capacity: This approach involves taking into account the degree to which an injury impacts a person’s ability to earn or compete in the labor market, and predicts the economic impact an impairment may have.
- Bifurcated: Under this approach, benefits depend on a worker’s status once their condition has stabilized, and whether they have resumed earning at or near pre-injury levels.
Permanent partial disability cases can take years to resolve. Readers should seek the benefits most closely aligned to individual circumstances. Workers’ compensation claims help employees pursue settlements for injury or illness contracted on the job. Personal injury settlements differ from workers’ comp payments, in compensation type and amount, and in the requirements necessary to place a party at fault. Victims of workplace disability discrimination should file to receive appropriate financial compensation for damages done.
Filing for any of the above settlements or payment types will require the help of an expert attorney to secure appropriate benefits. If you’re looking to receive disability payments, workers’ comp, injury or illness settlements of any kind, trust a qualified legal assistance with a demonstrated history of client success. Locate a lawyer near you to secure the compensation you deserve, no matter the challenges you face.
Work With an Experienced Local Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Though workers’ compensation is a no-fault recovery system, your employer and its insurer may attempt to undermine your claim. An experienced attorney can guide you through the claims process and advise you on what steps you can take to receive the maximum amount of compensation for the duration you need.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!