What Are Activities of Daily Living and Why Do They Matter?
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What Are “Activities of Daily Living” and Why Do They Matter?

A doctor’s evaluation of whether you can perform the activities of daily living could affect your award of wage loss benefits in your workers’ compensation case. Here is what you need to know.

What are activities of daily living?

Activities of daily living (ADL) refers to the activities everyone needs to perform in their daily lives, including self-care, personal hygiene, communication, ambulation, travel, sexual function, and sleep. The American Medical Association has a guide that breaks down each ADL even further. For example, communication includes writing, typing, seeing, hearing, and speaking.

Your workplace injury may affect your ability to perform the activities of daily living a little or a lot. If you suffered from a very severe workplace injury, you may need an aide to help you perform some or all of the ADLs.

Why do activities of daily living matter for workers’ comp?

Doctors evaluate your ability to perform the ADLs when they assess your degree of disability from the workplace injury. They also look to your work restrictions. Often there is some overlap between the ADLs you cannot perform and your work restrictions.

Depending on how the workplace injury has affected you, your doctor may assign you an impairment rating. Based on the impairment rating, the insurance company will pay you some amount of wage loss benefits, called permanent partial disability benefits. Many workers receive an impairment rating after they reach maximum medical improvement of their injuries.

The more ADLs that you cannot perform because of the workplace injury, the higher your impairment rating may be. Again, doctors also may factor in work restrictions and the degree of function that your body part or overall body actually has.

As you might guess, impairment rating sometimes becomes a controversial issue in workers’ compensation cases. Workers would like a higher rating so that they receive more benefits, while insurance companies would like as low of a rating as possible. The insurance company in your case may send you to an independent medical examination or functional capacity evaluation where another doctor evaluates your ability to perform activities of daily living, in an attempt to lower the rating your doctor gave you.

Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.