Permanent Partial Disability Benefit
If a work-related disease caused permanent loss of bodily function, the injured worker will receive a permanent partial disability (PPD) award. The monetary award the worker is eligible to receive for any physical loss is ether set by the Legislature subject to revision each July 1st and by an impairment rating system conducted by a physician based on accepted medical standards and guidelines. Unlike civil personal injury claims, PPD awards do not include compensation for pain and suffering. Any permanent partial disability award receive is based on the degree of damage suffered by the worker, not on whether he/she can work
There are two types of permanent partial disabilities; the first type is called specified partial disabilities and the second type is called unspecified disabilities. Specified disabilities are easy to demonstrate. Examples of specified disabilities include the loss of a leg, toe, foot, finger or arm by amputation. Monetary awards for specified disabilities pre-determined by law. Unspecified disabilities include all other disabilities caused by an on-the-job injury or occupational illness that are not otherwise specified including the partial loss of function to a limb.
Impairment Rating for a Worker’s Unspecified Disability
If a worker is left permanently impaired, the degree of a partial loss of function is determined by an impairment rating. These ratings are conducted by the worker’s attending physician, a consulting physician, or by an independent medical examiner. The attending physical is preferred to perform the rating because the doctor is able to provide a rating based on their management of the patient’s care over a period of time taking into account fluctuations in the patient’s condition, which other examiners are unable to do. Furthermore, worker’s often have more confidence in the rating provided by their attending doctor. Normally, ratings are initiated by the claim manager after all medical services have been completed and the worker is medically stable and no further treatment is appropriate.
The terms “impairment” and “disability” are often used interchangeably, but each are distinct having different meanings. Impairment is the loss of function of an organ or part of the body, while disability is the inability to perform a specific task or job. Awards are based on impairment and not on disability, and in some cases this may appear to be unfair. For example, if a typist and a opera singer both lose a finger, both would have the same impairment and receive the same award amount. However, their disabilities would be different because the opera singer is able to continue in his/her job and the typist would not.
If you have been re-injured in an accident at work or if you have an occupational illness, you deserve protection. Call our office today to talk to a Worker Compensation Attorney.
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