For the average workers’ compensation case, an injured worker will receive benefits for a few weeks or possibly a couple of months. Once they recover from their work-related injury, they can get back to work as normal and the benefits end. However, severe injuries do not make for a typical workers’ comp claim. When an injured worker suffers an injury that leaves them permanently disabled, then they might be eligible to receive permanent disability benefits.
Calculating Permanent Disability Benefits
Each state defines a “permanent disability” a little differently than the next, as each state can set its own rules and regulations for workers’ compensation insurance laws and cases. In states like Georgia, the claimant must have experienced a permanent “bodily loss” before they qualify for permanent disability benefits. A bodily loss is typically defined as an amputation, sensory loss like blindness or deafness, or paralysis that affects one or more body parts.
Once it is determined that you have experienced a bodily loss, it will be up to a medical professional to evaluate the extent of your disability. In particular, you will be assigned a permanent disability percentage or rating. The closer to 100%, the worse your disability is perceived to be. You can also be assigned a separate rating for each disabled body part. For example, you could be 90% disabled in your legs but 20% disabled in your arms after suffering a spinal cord injury. After your disability percentage is determined, the insurance company will be ready to calculate your permanent disability payments.
The insurance company will consider the following when setting your pay schedule:
- Occupation and work duties
- If you can perform new work duties
- Which body parts are disabled
- Disability percentage per body part
- Doctor’s prognosis
How Long Do Permanent Disability Payments Last?
The duration of your permanent disability payments depends largely on whether or not you are considered partially or totally and permanently disabled. Most claimants have a permanent partial disability (PPD) because they can still perform some actions and work, but they have a measurable disability for the rest of their lives. It is rarer for a worker to have a permanent total disability (PTD) because this situation implies they can never perform any sort of gainful employment again.
If you have a permanent partial disability, then the duration of your benefits payments will be limited. Again, every state sets its own maximum for weekly disability payment schedules. In Georgia, for example, the longest PPD payment duration is 300 weeks for partial disability experienced throughout the whole body. But the duration can be as brief as 20 weeks for claimants who lost a small toe in a workplace accident.
A permanent total disability case can warrant lifelong disability payments, though. The benefits amount will match what the claimant would have earned through PPD payments, except there will be no set end date.
In some situations, a disability benefits claimant might also be able to get a life pension whether they are totally or partially disabled. The deciding factor is their disability percentage. Typically, anyone who is at least 70% disabled can be eligible for a life pension, which will have money placed into it each week with no cancelation date.
Can I Get Disability After a Workers’ Comp Settlement?
Workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are not completely separate from one another. You can receive workers’ comp benefits through a settlement and still file for SSD afterward.
But you cannot “double-dip” your benefits and earn more than you would have earned had you been working as if your injury never happened. If your SSD and workers’ comp benefits together would get you more than your usual wages, then your SSD benefits will be reduced until that payment threshold is met.
Making the Most of Your Situation
When you are seriously injured at work and suffer a permanent disability, it can be easy to feel defeated or out of energy. Our team from The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia would like to encourage you to not lose hope. Continue exploring your legal options with a local workers’ compensation lawyer and see if you can get much-needed financial relief through workers’ comp payments, disability payments, or both.
If you live in Atlanta and would like our help with a workers’ comp claim, please call (770) 629-9321 to schedule a free case evaluation.