Workers’ Comp Disability Ratings

Once you have reached “maximum medical improvement” ( MMI ) from your injury, you may be entitled to some permanent disability money benefits.

There are two categories of disability and two systems of determining a “rating” of the impairment that you may have sustained, which are:

– Extremity Rating

– Whole Person Rating

An “Extremity Rating” is given to workers who injure their arms, legs, hands or feet, as opposed to head injuries, neck injuries or back injuries. With some exceptions, extremity ratings provide for less permanent impairment benefits than whole person ratings. Benefits paid for an extremity rating are based on the severity of the injury and do not take the wage rate or age of the claimant into account. They also vary depending on the date of the injury.

A “Whole Person Ratings” applies to injuries that affect the whole person, such as back, neck and head injuries.

Benefits for “whole person” impairments are paid based on a formula set forth in the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act. This formula takes into account a number of factors, such as the worker’s age, wage rate and percentage of impairment determined by a medical provider. Generally, the higher the worker’s wage and the younger a worker is, the more money a permanent impairment is worth for a similar impairment rating.

The initial determination of the “rating” is usually made at the request of the employer/insurance carrier. However, if the injured worker, employer or insurance carrier disagrees with the disability rating or even the date of MMI, either can request a Division Independent Medical Examination (DIME) or a second opinion from another doctor.

The opinions of the DIME doctor on the issues of permanent impairment and MMI are very difficult to overcome. Either party may request a hearing to argue about this opinion, but it is very difficult to overcome the DIME doctor’s opinion, as the law was set up to have this opinion end the controversy. For this reason, great care should be taken in selecting the initial DIME doctor, using the procedures set forth in the law.


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.