Permanent Disability Rating

WHAT YOU WERE DOING AT THE TIME OF YOUR INDUSTRIAL INJURY & WHY IT MATTERS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

An Injured Worker’s Occupation at the time of an industrial injury can trigger a variety of rights and benefits within workers’ compensation. It can impact the Injured Worker’s Permanent Disability Percentage and Permanent Disability Rating and therefore affect the amount of the compensation the Injured Worker will receive as a result of their injury. It can also impact the Injured Worker’s entitlement to a job displacement voucher.

In California Workers’ Compensation Law, your Occupation is important to both determine the amount of compensation as well as possibly causation of injury. As a result of this, litigation concerning an Injured Worker’s Occupational Group is not uncommon. There are many reported decisions concerning what occupation an Injured Worker had at the time of injury.


What is My Occupation? 

Permanent Disability Rating

If you haven’t figured out a name for your occupation, you will have to come up with a name for it with respect to your workers’ compensation claim. Don’t worry, however. You are not required to ultimately determine this issue.

A proper description of your job duties will assist in figuring out your occupation for workers’ compensation purposes. The parties involved can use this data to make an assessment. This includes your adjuster, your attorney, the insurance company attorney, the Disability Evaluator at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, and the Workers’ Compensation Judge assigned to your case.

Soon after you are injured, you will be asked about your occupation. It will most likely begin at the doctor’s office. When you are at the doctor’s offices, you will be asked to state your occupation and describe your job duties. At a Qualified Medical Evaluation or an Agreed Medical Evaluation, you will be asked to state your occupation as well as provide a description of your job duties.


 Why is My Occupation Important for Permanent Disability Rating Purposes? 

Per the SCHEDULE FOR RATING PERMANENT DISABILITIES (2005) (SCHEDULE), “[a] final permanent disability rating is obtained only after the impairment rating obtained from an evaluating physician is adjusted for diminished future earning capacity, occupation, and age at the time of injury.” P. 1-3. [emphasis added]

In sum, the designation of your occupation is necessary in order for you to obtain your permanent disability rating.

Per the SCHEDULE, an occupational adjustment is to “take into account the requirements of the specific occupation that the employee was engaged in when injured.” Besides what you did on the job, there is also the question of what you were doing at the time of the injury. There are legal doctrines such as the “Dual Occupation Rule” that can come into play in determining one’s occupational group. See Grossmont vs. WCAB 62 Cal. Comp. Cases 687, 1997 Cal. Wrk. Comp. LEXIS 4483.

In sum, your occupation can cause your permanent disability rating to lower or increase.


What if My Occupation is not in The Schedule? 

If your occupation is not in the SCHEDULE, the SCHEDULE instructs that “[i]f [an] occupation cannot be found, an appropriate occupational group is determined by analogy to a listed occupation(s) based on a comparison of duties.”

Again, the parties involved can use this data to make an assessment as to your occupation and its appropriate occupational group number. This includes your adjuster, your attorney, the insurance company attorney, the Disability Evaluator at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, and also the Workers’ Compensation Judge assigned to your case.


Once I know my Occupation, How is it Used to Get My Rating? 

Permanent Disability Rating

Once the parties to your claim know your occupation, then they can go to the SCHEDULE to obtain the Occupational Group Number. Within the SCHEDULE, there are pages of various occupations. For each of these occupations, there is an occupational group number assigned.

Once the correct Occupational Group Number is determined, it will be placed within the PERMANENT DISABILITIES rating formula along with the other data, such as Whole Person Impairment, to come up with the actual rating.


What is an Occupational Group Number? Is There Any Meaning Behind it? 

An Occupational Group Number is a three digit number. Each digit has meaning. For example, 110 is an Occupational Group Number. 490 is another Occupational Group Number.


What Does the 1st Digit Mean? 

Per the SCHEDULE, the first digit refers to the arduousness of the duty. Job arduousness is ranked from 1 to 5. One being the least arduous and five being the most. Physical arduousness is essentially dealing with strength. The first digit is a strength designator. The numbers go as follows:

  1. Very Light
  2. Light
  3. Medium
  4. Heavy
  5. Very Heavy

What Does the 2nd Digit Mean? 

Per the SCHEDULE, the second digit refers to a number which is intended to separate occupations into broad categories of occupations sharing common characteristics.

This digit addresses various classes such as:

  1. Professional, Technical, Clerical
  2. Hand Intensive
  3. Machine Operators, Tenders
  4. Cleaners, Attendants
  5. Drivers
  6. Laborers, Material Handlers
  7. Mechanics, Installers, Repairers, Servicers
  8. Construction Workers
  9. Miscellaneous

What Does the 3rd Digit Mean? 

Per the SCHEDULE, the third digit differentiates between occupations within these groups of the second digit.


What Is an Occupational Group Variant? 

An Occupational Group Variant is a corresponding letter. The letter is designed to reflect the occupations demand particular parts of the body or body systems. The letter is designed to address the intensity of the demand.

For instance, for a Loader/Unloader, the demands for the Lumbar Spine is great. As a result, the occupational group variant will reflect that demand and increase the value of the permanent disability rating.

The letter variants, per the SCHEDULE, have meanings. “[V]ariant “F” represents average demands on the injured body part for the particular impairment being rated, with letters “E”, “D” and “C” representing progressively lesser demands, and letters “G” through “J” reflecting progressively higher demands.”

In sum, the higher the letter beyond “F”, there is a likelihood that the permanent disability percentage will be increased. If the letter if before “F,” there is a likelihood that the permanent disability will be decreased.

There is a table within the SCHEDULE that makes the adjustments. If you would like to see the tables and adjustments, please go to the following link. https://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/PDR.pdf


As an Injured Worker, Where Can I Get Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 26 years. Contact us today for more information.

Disabilities & Workers’ Compensation: What You Need To Know

Disabilities & Workers’ Compensation

In California Workers’ Compensation Law, the term “disability” carries with it many different meanings. Many times, as an Injured Worker, you are frequently asked questions by family, friends, and co-workers, such as “what is your disability?” or “how much is your disability?”

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Law Enforcement, Safety Personnel, and Workers’ Compensation: What You Need to Know

Many Law Enforcement and Safety Personnel, while performing their usual and customary duties, encounter experiences which can trigger PTSD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is a Psychiatric Disorder which most likely would give rise to a workers’ compensation claim of injury and trigger eligibility for benefits.

This article is intended to discuss PTSD and the interplay it has for Law Enforcement and Safety Personnel and their right to benefits under the workers’ compensation system.

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mental health

I Had a Workers’ Compensation Psychiatric/ Psychological Evaluation and They Won’t Let Me see the QME/AME/Treating Doctor Report, What Should I Do?: What You Need To Know

“You Can’t Handle the Truth?”

In California Workers’ Compensation Law, Injured Workers who have emotional, stress or mental health claims may attend a Psychological Evaluation by a mental health practitioner. Frequently, these reports contain language within them similar to this language:

“This psychiatric mental health report is confidential and privileged. This report is meant for the use of qualified professionals only and those with the need to know. If the applicant wishes to review this report, he or she should only review it under the supervision of a therapist or psychiatrist because the report may be easily misinterpreted by the applicant. Some individuals and family members may misunderstand and/or distort the information in this report. This may result in the significant psychological harm to the applicant or may interfere with treatment and recovery from illness. For individuals with self-destructive or violent tendencies, the consequences of disclosure of this report may be serious. Persons breaching the confidential nature of this report are acting against medical advice and assume any and all risks and liabilities of doing so.” Continue reading

Your Communications with Your Treating Doctor: What Your Insurance Company is Telling Your Treating Physician How to Act : What You Need to Know

This article will discuss the communication between you, the Injured Worker, and your treating doctor.

One of the Largest Insurers in the State of California, the State Compensation Insurance Fund, issued a publication intended for their physicians who treat injured workers.   This publication includes a discussion concerning communications with injured workers. It is called “A TREATING PHYSICIAN’S GUIDE to Patient Care in the Workers’ Compensation System.”

The publication states that “[o]ne of the unique features of occupational medicine is the need for the treating physician to function as part of a team. The players on this team include the injured employee, the employer, the physician, and the claims administrator. Depending on the specifics of the case, other parties may be involved, including an occupational health nurse, a physical therapist, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, or the patient’s family physician.”

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