For injured workers dealing with medical treatment, workers’ compensation, and more, hearing the words “permanent disability” can cause stress, fear, and uncertainty. How will you provide for your family if you are permanently disabled? Will you ever be able to work again? What about paying for medical bills? In Minnesota, “permanent disability” has a specific meaning that you should understand.
Permanent disability refers to whether your workplace injury will either (1) prevent you from working or (2) prevent you from earning the same wages you earned before the injury. In the first case, you may be able to receive permanent total disability (PTD) wage loss benefits. In the second case, you may be able to receive permanent partial disability (PPD) wage loss benefits.
Your eligibility for PTD depends on how impaired your injury makes you. First, you must not be able to secure anything more than sporadic employment resulting in insubstantial income. In other words, you cannot hold down a typical job. Also, your disability must have a “rating” above a certain percentage. This rating refers to how impaired you are because of the injury. Your treating doctor and/or the independent medical exam doctor will decide on your impairment rating. If you qualify, you will receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage before your injury.
You may also be able to receive PPD benefits if you permanently lose function in a body part because of your injury. PPD benefits are a little different than other wage loss benefits because they are not based on your wages earned before the injury. Instead, they are based on your impairment rating (described above), and a money value is assigned to each percentage of whole-body impairment. You can receive PPD benefits while you are receiving PTD benefits or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits, but not while you are receiving temporary total disability (TTD) benefits.
The concept of maximum medical improvement (MMI) often affects whether you have a permanent disability for purposes of receiving workers’ compensation benefits. At some point, your treating doctor or the independent medical exam doctor may state that you have reached MMI for your injury. Then the insurance company may try to stop paying you wage-loss benefits.
If this happens to you, you may be able to reverse the insurer’s decision by showing that your impairment rating qualifies you for either PTD or PPD benefits. Or your doctor may provide evidence that you have not reached MMI. You will more likely have success contesting a benefits discontinuance because you reach MMI if you speak to a qualified Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer.
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.