What is the Difference between Permanent Total Disability and Permanent Partial Disability?
If a work-related injury or accident causes a person to suffer the loss of both eyes, arms, feet, legs, hands, or any combination of any two of these body parts, that person is considered completely and permanently disabled for workers' compensation purposes. A person may also be considered a Permanent Total Disability (PTD) case if he or she is completely incapable of doing any type of normal work as a result of a work injury (even when no body parts are lost). Subject to maximum limits, such a person is entitled to a weekly benefit for life.
If however, a person is still able to work, but is permanently unable to do the same kind of work as before the injury, then that person will likely be considered a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) case. Such a condition is often due to the complete or partial loss of the use of a body part like an eye, ear, hand, or leg.
Am I Eligible for Permanent Disability?
Before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC) can determine whether a person is permanently disabled, that person must reach what is called Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). That basically means that the injured person's doctor has decided that no further medical improvement is likely. At this point, the injured person can be declared permanently disabled since there is no foreseeable option for additional improvement via medical treatment.
What About Temporary Disability?
As the name suggests, Temporary Disability differs from permanent forms in that it can be overcome through additional medical treatment. Temporary Partial Disability refers to an injury that leaves someone capable of performing some professional tasks, but not as many as prior to the injury. A broken arm might render someone Temporarily Partially Disabled while they mend. Temporary Total Disability occurs when an injury is so serious that someone cannot return to work in any capacity, but medical treatment should result in a full recovery in the future. A serious neck or back injury that requires bed rest for several weeks or months, but does not result in permanent paralysis, would typically be grounds for Temporary Total Disability.
If you are considered temporarily disabled, then you can qualify for financial assistance that is meant to help while you continue to mend through treatment. Benefits for temporary disability are calculated in a similar manner to permanent disability benefits, but pay out over a shorter term. Payments are made until you return to work normally or until a doctor determines you have reached your MMI from treatment. At this point, you should be able to resume a previous lifestyle and earn a wage as before your injury, or you may need to file for permanent disability.
How Are Permanent Partial Disability Benefits Calculated?
Your Chicago work injury lawyer will help you determine the best available method to determine benefits. Depending on the injury, there are number of different ways to calculate disability payments:
- Scheduled Injury – A permanent disability payment based upon a percentage of your AWW (average weekly wage). Various body parts are set out in a schedule with a particular weekly value for each.
- Disfigurement – This workers' comp award involves a permanent, serious disfigurement to a person's head, neck, face, upper chest, or limbs due a work accident or injury, often involving a cut or a burn.
- Wage Differential – When a person can still work, but the new job simply does not pay as much as before, then he or she is entitled to two-thirds of the difference in pay. The maximum wage differential is the SAWW (State Average Weekly Wage).
- Loss of Percentage of Person as a Whole – This is generally for a person whose impairment is not listed as a scheduled injury. For that reason it is also known as the Nonscheduled Injury Method. The Workers' Compensation Commission will determine what percentage of a person as a whole you have been disabled. This percentage then is used to determine the benefit.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Chicago
Even after an injury is reported to an employer and even if the employer’s workers' compensation insurance company begins to pay for treatment and expenses, a claim should still be filed with the IWCC. Filing a claim is the best way to protect ongoing payments and compensation, especially when an injury is so serious that it qualifies for permanent disability. If the insurance company denies a claim, then your attorney can explain the next steps to appeal that denial with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Filing with the IWCC requires a fair amount of paperwork and time, and certain filing deadlines must be met or your right to file will be forever lost. That is why hiring an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Chicago is often necessary to navigate the potentially treacherous waters of paperwork and bureaucracy. Once a claim is filed, then the IWCC assigns an arbitrator to look at the case and determine how and when it will move forward. Ultimately, the responsibility to prove that you qualify for compensation rests on you, and an experienced lawyer can be of great help when demonstrating the validity of your case.
Appealing a Claim Denial
If your claim is denied by the IWCC arbitrator, you can still appeal the denial and continue in your efforts to obtain compensation for your claim. This process eventually moves into the court system, and your lawyer can work with you to help you understand each step of the process and keep fighting for your rights. When represented by an experienced Chicago compensation attorney, appeals are successful more often than they are denied, which makes legal representation absolutely worthwhile when seeking compensation for your disability.
Even denials from a first appeal are not necessarily the end of the road. Further appeals may be filed all the way up to the Illinois State Supreme Court, which has the option for final ruling on a compensation case. These are relatively rare and only a handful each year reach the Supreme Court, but the appeals process gives you a number of options to overturn a denial of your compensation claim.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Workers' Compensation Attorney
If you would like assistance in determining what award or benefit you may be entitled to, contact an Illinois workers' comp attorney at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at (800) 996-4824 for free information.