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Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Sunday, June 18, 2017

How Does My Disability Level Affect My Workers’ Compensation Payment?

Accidents can happen at any time. This is no different at the workplace. A warehouse worker may injure his spine while loading a heavy bag onto a container, a construction worker may get hit by a falling hammer and suffer head trauma and a secretary may slip and fall as she climbs up a flight of stairs. When workplace injuries occur, the injured victim can make a workers’ compensation claim to cover the medical expenses and lost wages accruing from the time of injury.

Sometimes, workplace injuries lead to permanent injuries such as when an elevator technician gets his arm amputated after a hydraulic malfunction causes an elevator to jolt downwards, crush his limb.  Severe disabilities do affect worker’s compensation. Consult a Pennsylvania disability attorney to learn more.

Disability Level after Injury – How Disability Affects Worker’s Compensation

After an injury, one of the questions that come up while filing either a legal or insurance claim is whether an injury has caused disability or impairment. Impairment is a neurological or physical condition that affects how a body part functions. Disability is the inability to perform tasks.

The difference between the two is especially important as it affects eligibility for long-term benefits. Take a secretary who injured her back in a slip and fall accident. If the back injury is permanent, her back is impaired. However, she can still perform her job at the desk hence she is not deemed permanently disabled. If the same injury were to happen to a warehouse worker, it would mean some level of disability, as he would not be able to lift heavy loads.

Where an injury causes permanent disability, the injured worker can claim a much larger disability payment for a much longer period.

Insurance companies are never too quick to consent to a claim for permanent disability. An impairment rating evaluation (IRE) will have to be conducted to confirm the injured worker’s disability.

The Impairment Rating Evaluation

After workers suffer injuries, they can make a claim with their employer’s worker’s compensation carrier to cover medical expenses and lost wages. These benefits are accorded up until the point of recovery or in the case or permanent impairment, up until the point of maximum medical improvement. This is the point where the worker cannot improve health-wise, no matter how much treatment is received.

To convince the insurer of permanent impairment and to succeed in a claim for larger compensation payments, an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) has to be performed.

An IRE is only performed after an injured worker received benefits for 104 weeks while undergoing treatment. The impairment must be permanent and the worker should have reached the point of maximum medical improvement.

A doctor performs the IRE. After a full physical examination, the doctor will give a rating based on guidelines set by the American Medical Association.

The IRE rating is based on a scale of 1-100 with 100 indicating total permanent disability. The more severe the disability, the more compensation a worker can claim.

A rating of less than 50 percent indicates partial disability, meaning the worker will be able to return to work at some point. In this case, the worker can only claim worker’s compensation for an additional 500 weeks. A rating above 50 percent means the worker is totally disabled and cannot perform any work. The worker will be entitled to claim worker’s compensation indefinitely.

IRE ratings decide the long-term benefits an injured worker can claim. Do not take them as just another formality. If you or someone you know sustained a permanent impairment in the course of employment, talk to a worker’s compensation attorney to determine how best to approach your claim for long-term disability payments. Schedule a consult with the Pennsylvania disability lawyers at Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates today.

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