How Does an Impairment Rating Chart Work?

Work injuries can vary in severity. Some injuries may only require an ice pack while others may leave permanent impairments.

For temporary disabilities, the workers comp amount usually depends on the severity of the injury and the recovery time. But for permanent impairments, the state uses a rating system to determine the workers comp amount.

This system is often expressed in a table commonly referred to as the impairment rating chart.

What is an Impairment Rating Chart?

In workers compensation, an impairment rating chart is a rating system that grades an impairment based on its severity. The rating is usually expressed in percentages. These percentages are then used to determine how much workers comp benefits you will receive.

As you know, permanent injuries can affect your working capacity in varying degrees. Some may prevent you from doing simple things like picking up small objects. While others can make a patient bedridden their whole life.

This variation is why workers comp systems use impairment rating charts. It assures that the benefits worker receives correspond to the impairment rating found in1996 Florida Impairment Guidelines.

How Will You Get a Permanent Impairment Rating?

Contrary to popular belief, you won’t be assigned an impairment rating at the onset of your injury. You’ll only get a permanent impairment rating when either of these happens:

  • you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).

While MMI is the point where your medical condition can’t get any better. It’s either you’re fully healed or the medical technology needed to cure your condition isn’t yet available.

At the onset of your injury, you can only claim temporary disability benefits. When your doctor deems that you’ve reached MMI, they will also determine if the injury left any lasting impairments. And if it did, they will assign you a permanent impairment rating (PIR). Note that only a licensed doctor with expertise in your specific medical condition is qualified to issue an impairment rating.

The PIR is usually determined based on the 1996 Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule provides a framework for evaluating impairments based on current medical evidence and medical advances. 

In Florida, however, medical professionals have to follow the Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Guidelines

Permanent Impairment Rating Chart for Florida Workers Comp

Each state has different rating systems for permanent impairments. But in most cases, they are assigned based on the body part affected. That’s why, in some states, they are also referred to as “body part prices”.

 

In Florida, however, impairment ratings are assigned based on the severity of your injury. Less severe impairments like losing a toe usually garners a low rating. While serious disabilities like spinal fracture or major amputations can get a higher rating.

 

Here’s a permanent impairment rating chart according to Florida law:

 

Permanent Impairment Rating (PIR)

Compensation Rate

1-10%

Two Weeks Per Percentage Point

11-15%

Three Weeks Per Percentage Point

16-20%

Four Weeks Per Percentage Point

21-100%

Six Weeks Per Percentage Point

 

Note, however, that these ratings are only applicable physical impairments. Psychological impairments resulting from a work accident has to be fully substantiated to qualify for a rating. Though these types of impairments can only receive a maximum of 1% PIR.

How to Calculate Your Permanent Impairment Benefits

Your impairment benefits are calculated at 75% of your average weekly temporary total disability (TTD). Your TTD benefits, in turn, is equal to 66 ⅔% of your average weekly wage from before the injury.

For instance, if you are earning $1,000 per week before your injury, your TTD benefits is $666.70 ($1,000 x 0.6667). With this, your impairment benefits should be $500.02 ($666.70 x 75%).

But if you want to know how much total impairment benefits you should get, you need to refer to the permanent impairment rating chart. The PIR chart indicates how many weeks of benefits you’ll get per percentage point.

For instance, let’s say that you’ve received an impairment rating of 15%. Based on the chart, you’re entitled to 35 weeks of impairment (10 points x 2 weeks plus 5 points x 3 weeks). If your weekly impairment benefits is $500.02, your total benefit due is $17500.70 ($500.02 x 35 weeks).

You can also refer to the state’s Impairment Income Calculator for a more accurate estimate of your benefits.

What Happens If You Return to Work?

Receiving a permanent impairment rating doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t go to work anymore. Even if you can’t return to your previous job, you may still find a new one if your impairment rating is not that severe.

If you return to work, however, your benefits shall be reduced by 50% for every week that you’ve earned an income equal to or more than your average weekly wage.

So if you’re earning $1,000 per week before your injury and you are earning $1,000 or more in your current job, you can only receive half of your impairment benefits.

Note that the statutes say “for every week” and not “upon return to work”. Meaning, your benefits will only be reduced for the weeks you’ve earned equal to or more than your average weekly wage and not the entire time you’re working.

Should You Hire a Lawyer?

Yes, it’s ideal to hire a workers comp lawyer. It’s not uncommon for employers and insurance companies to attempt a premature MMI declaration.

When this happens, the full extent of your impairment may not yet show when you are being evaluated for an impairment rating. As a result, your rating might be significantly lower than what it should be. So your impairment benefits will also be lower than what you’re really entitled to.

This is why you need an experienced workers comp lawyer like Victor Malca. For the past 28 years, he has already handled lots of cases that involve inaccurate impairment ratings. He can help you get the benefits you deserve too. Call us now for a free consultation at 954-474-0556.

VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney

Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.

Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.

About The Author

Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.