Workers’ Comp Disability Benefits
If your on-the-job injury is severe enough to keep you from working or results in some permanent form of impairment of your body, there are monetary disability benefits available as follows:
A. Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Temporary Total Disability generally is payable when, due to your injury, you are unable to perform your usual job while you are undergoing medical treatment unless your employer provides “light duty” work which your treating physician says you can perform. Initially, you do not receive temporary benefits for the first three days of disability, but after you are disabled for ten days, you are reimbursed for the first three days.
TTD is paid at the rate of two-thirds of your average weekly gross earnings, to a maximum amount that changes every year.
You are not entitled to TTD if your employer provides medically-approved light duty work at your normal average weekly wage. Caution: if you unreasonably refuse an offer of light duty, your employer may cut off your disability payments.
TTD generally continues until one of the following happen
– You are released by the treating doctors to “full duty” work, even if you are still undergoing some medical treatment. This can trigger a termination of your temporary wage benefits, even if your employer does not have a job position for you to return to.
– You return to work with restrictions and the employer provides a job within these restrictions for the same hours and wages.
– You are terminated for fault or good cause from the job. This could cause a loss or total or partial benefits. Often we see arguments over whether the employee returned to work promptly after being released by the doctors. You should be very careful to maintain good communication with your employer if you desire to return to your old job, to avoid giving the employer a reason to terminate you. If this happens to you, there are procedures to contest the termination.
– You reach what is called “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is defined in the law as the point in your medical treatment where your condition is not expected to improve significantly with further treatment. When your treating doctors say that you have reached MMI, your right to further temporary benefits ends. This is true even if you are unable to return to your job because of your physical restrictions.the job because of restrictions, no further temporary benefits are paid. At this point, you may be entitled to the “permanent” disability benefits discussed below.
However, if you disagree that you have reached MMI, and feel that further medical care could make a significant difference in your recovery, there is a procedure for requesting that another doctor perform an “independent medical examination” to determine whether you have truly reached MMI.
B. Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
If you are able to work part-time, or at a lower rate of pay while you are treating, you are eligible for Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) payable at the rate of two-thirds of the gross income you have lost (the difference between what you make now and what you made before).
PERMANENT DISABILITY BENEFITS:
Once you have reached a permanent stable medical condition, you will be evaluated to determine whether your medical condition has resulted in some permanent impairment of your functional abilities. If you have, you may be entitled to one of the following benefits:
A. Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
Permanent partial disability is only determined after you have become medically permanent and stationary (reached maximum medical improvement or MMI) and are able to return to some form of work, even if it is not your customary occupation.
When your treating physician determines that you are at MMI, and believes that you have sustained some permanent physical impairment, he will arrange for you to receive an impairment rating under the Colorado statutory system.
The impairment rating will be converted to a monetary sum under formulas and charts within the Workers Compensation statute. This money (PPD) is then paid to you over time, bi-weekly, unless you request a lump sum payout. Lump sum payouts are subject to a discount for early payment using a 4% discount factor.
There is a cap on the total of the PPD and TTD/TPD paid to a worker of $60,000 for impairment ratings of 25% whole person or less, and $120,000 above 25%.
B. Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
An award of Permanent Total Disability is rare as it must be proven that you are incapable earning any wages at all. Certain conditions such as the loss of use of both arms or both legs or the loss of use of both eyes are presumed to be PTD. PTD is paid at the temporary disability rate for life, or until you are is no longer so impaired and are able to return to work.
In addition to any disability benefits that you may be entitled to after a work injury has had time to heal, you may be left with permanently visible evidence of the injury, such as scars and other deformities of your person. If such disfigurement is in an area ” normally exposed to public view”, ie. visible when you are wearing a swimsuit, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.
Contact our office to discuss your case, without cost or obligation at: 303-797-3311
We provide representation serving the entire south Denver, Colorado (CO) Metropolitan area, including Littleton, Englewood, Centennial & Aurora in Arapahoe County, Highlands Ranch and Castle Rock in Douglas County, Denver and south Jefferson County, Colorado. Evening and weekend appointments are available upon request.