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?”
You may not know how to answer people. This article is intended to explain to you the nature of the term “disability” within workers’ compensation and its many meanings concerning benefits. Further, this article is, however, not intended to provide a complete and comprehensive explanation of the benefits of Disabilities & Workers’ Compensation.
The most common disabilities within California Workers’ Compensation that are important for injured workers are as follows: Total Temporary Disability, Temporary Partial Disability, Permanent Partial Disability, and Permanent Total Disability.
Temporary Disability involves issues of “wage loss.” Permanent Disability, however, does not require “wage loss.”
- Dept. of Motor Vehicles v. Indus. Acc. Com. (Dinan) (1939) 14 Cal.2d 189 [93 P.2d 131, 4 Cal. Comp. Cas 171];
- Smith v. Industrial Acc. Com. (1955) 44 Cal.2d 364, 367 [282 P.2d 64, 20 Cal. Comp. Cas 82].)
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
A TEMPORARY TOTAL DISABILITY is a limited period disability. It occurs when an employee is injured on the job and cannot return to their work. Further, this period occurs when the person is still recovering from their injuries. This period is prior to the time that the Injured Worker has reached “maximum medical improvement” or has been determined to be “permanent and stationary.” This usually occurs when the Treating Physician discharges the doctor. Being totally temporarily disabled can entitle an Injured Worker to receive total temporary disability benefits.
For laypeople, in describing temporary disability, the most common phrase used is “I’m off on disability.” It most likely applies to the fact that the injured worker is off of work and collecting TTD benefits.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
A TEMPORARY PARTIAL DISABILITY is when an Injured Worker is still treating and has not reached “maximum medical improvement” or “permanent and stationary status.” They are, however, able to return to work but are earning less than their pre-injury average weekly wage. For example, they are able to work only 20 hours per week.
Being temporarily partially disabled can entitle an injured worker to temporary partial disability payments. Payment of Temporary Partial Disability is complicated because of the fact that the adjusting agency must receive earnings information from the employer in order to properly pay the benefit.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) or (PD)
A PERMANENT PARTIAL DISABILITY is a permanent disability that is less than 100 percent. A Permanent Disability is a limitation that prevents one from being able to compete in the open labor market. Permanent Disability, within California Law, for injuries other than psychiatric, use the AMA to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Fifth Edition as part of the formula to make the calculation.
A Permanent Partial Disability may entitle an individual to receive permanent disability payments for a certain amount and for a certain length of time. Permanent Partial Disabilities of 70 percent or greater also provide for the receipt of a Life Pension which is paid out as long as the Injured Worker is alive.
For a layperson, it is common to use the term “I got a disability award” or be asked “what is your disability percentage?” These lines refer to permanent partial disability benefits.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD) or (PD)
PERMANENT TOTAL DISABILITY is when individual rates out at 100 percent permanent disability. Implied within a Permanent Total Disability is that the individual is unable to compete in the open labor market. Also, the Labor Code contains certain instances in which an individual is considered permanently totally disabled based upon certain medical conditions such as the loss of both eyes or sight, the loss of both hands or the use, an injury resulting in practically total paralysis and an injury to the brain resulting in permanent mental incapacity. See Labor Code Section 4662.
An individual who is Permanent Total Disabled may be eligible to receive payments are at a rate of their temporary total disability benefit paid out as long as the individual is alive.
For a layperson, someone who is 100 percent disabled may refer to themselves as being “totally disabled.”
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.