Most workers injured on the job typically recover from their injuries; however, sometimes you may never fully recover, or you will always be limited in the type of work you can do. In this case, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits. Your condition must reach a point where it stops improving, and this is referred to as “permanent and stationary” to be eligible for permanent disability benefits. At that point, you will receive a disability rating that will determine the amount of permanent disability benefits that you can receive for your work-related injury. Permanent disability benefits are paid long-term and compensate an injured employee who cannot recover completely after suffering an on-the-job injury. Permanent disability compensation compensates you for lost potential earnings as a result of your permanent injury. Permanent disability is based on a medical evaluation from your physician and is set on a scale from 0% to 100%. It is also adjusted depending on your age and occupation.
When do I know if my condition has reached a “permanent and stationary” status?
If your treating doctor’s opinion is that your condition has reached a point where it probably will not improve any further, your condition will be labeled “permanent and stationary.” We also refer to this point as your condition reaching maximum medical improvement. In terms of California workers’ compensation, maximum medical improvement is the point in which your condition has stabilized, with or without medical intervention, and is not likely to change over the next year substantially. When you reach a permanent and stationary status, then you will stop receiving temporary disability benefits.
When your treating physician writes your permanent and stationary report, they must rate the level you have lost the ability to use your injured body part normally. Your physician must follow guidelines from the American Medical Association when completing your permanent and stationary report. After completing a permanent and stationary report, then you, your attorney, or the claims administrator can have a person determine your disability rate. If a QME examined you, then a disability rater will automatically rate your permanent disability.
What is a disability rating?
When determining the amount of permanent disability benefits that you can receive, you will obtain a rating that estimates how much your condition affects the type of work that you can do. Many factors contribute to your disability rating:
- Your medical conditions
- The date of your injury
- Your age at the time of injury
- Your occupation at the time of injury
- The portion of your disability that was due to your job in comparison to preexisting conditions
- An adjustment factor that is based on your reduced future earning capacity
What can I do if I disagree with my disability rating?
You have the right to challenge the rating if you do not agree. Two different people who view the same permanent and stationary report may come to differing conclusions of the same disability. Your Stockton workers’ compensation attorney can help negotiate the correct rating with the claims administrator. If there is no agreement on the rating of your disability, you can request a workers’ compensation judge to decide the correct rating.
How does my disability rating affect the amount of permanent disability benefits that I can receive?
If your disability is rated at 100%, you have a permanent total disability; however, ratings of 100% are not common. The law presumes that an employee is permanently disabled if they suffered certain injuries like complete paralysis or total blindness. In most cases, unless your permanent disability rating adds up to 100%, then most injured workers do not receive permanent total disability benefits.
If your disability is rated between 1% and 99%, your disability is considered a permanent partial disability. The most common ratings are between 5% and 30%. Your disability rating percentage is important in determining the amount of permanent partial disability you will receive and for how long. The higher your disability rating percentage, the more money and weeks you will receive for permanent partial disability.
When do I start receiving permanent disability benefits?
If you receive a 100% disability rating, you will receive permanent disability payments for the rest of your life. Typically, you will get two-thirds of your average weekly salary from before your injury, and this is usually the exact amount you received in temporary disability. There are still minimum and maximum amounts that apply to this weekly average wage.
Permanent disability benefits must start within 14 days after your temporary disability payments cease. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier is required to pay you every two weeks. If the insurance company is late on paying, you will get an extra 10% of the amount of permanent disability you were to receive. You could be awarded up to 25% on any late payment with a limit of $10,000 if the insurer didn’t have an adequate explanation for the error.
What can a Stockton Workers’ Compensation Attorney do?
If you are having trouble obtaining the permanent disability benefits you are entitled to, contact a Stockton Workers’ Compensation Attorney today. Our Stockton workers’ compensation lawyers will help you through the entire workers’ compensation process and ensure you get the benefits you are entitled to receive. To receive a FREE consultation, please call the Stockton Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, P.C. today.