In general, partial disability refers to any type of disability that prevents the worker from performing at full capacity. This includes when an injured worker:
- cannot do some of the work they’ve been doing before they got injured
- cannot earn the same amount of income they had before the injury
But then again, the definition of partial disability varies across states and insurance companies. What counts as a partial disability in one state may not necessarily be so in other states. Similarly, individual insurance policies have different provisions on what qualifies as partial disability.
If you’ve been injured and are applying for partial disability benefits, here are some things you need to know:
Own occupation vs. Any Occupation
As mentioned, insurance companies have different definitions of partial disability. Most of the time, the main difference lies in whether they use the term “own occupation” or “any occupation”.
Why does this matter?
Some insurance policies say that when a worker cannot perform their “own occupation”, they are considered partially disabled. This means that the insurance only covers disabilities that prevent the worker from performing essential duties they had before they got injured. Note that some injured workers may not be able to go back to their jobs but they may still be able to do any other type of job. In which case, the worker won’t be eligible for partial disability benefits.
Other companies, however, provide partial disability benefits for workers who are unable to do “any occupation”. This means a worker can claim benefits if they can’t do any job by which they have been trained, educated, or suited to. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same job they were doing from before the injury.
Partial Disability Under SSDI
Disabled workers who have paid enough social security taxes may be eligible for social security disability insurance (SSDI). Unfortunately, the SSA does not give out benefits for partial disability.
The agency has pretty strict guidelines when it comes to defining disability. To qualify for SSDI, your disability must be expected to last for at least a year or result in death. This means that only those who are totally disabled can qualify for SSA’s disability benefits.
Partial Disability Under Workers Comp
Under worker’s compensation, partial disability can be classified into two types: temporary and permanent.
As the name suggests, temporary partial disability is if your injury prevents you from working at full capacity but is expected to make a full recovery soon. For instance, you hurt your wrist while working. You may not be able to do some of your duties for some time. But when your wrist heals, you can go back to work like you used to.
Permanent partial disability, on the other hand, is when a full recovery cannot be reasonably expected. Like if you lose your leg to a workplace accident. An amputation can last for life as such you cannot be expected to make a full recovery anytime soon.
Each state has different rules for computing partial disability benefits. But in general, you can only receive temporary partial disability benefits for a limited amount of time. The time limit varies per state. If you still haven’t recovered when the time limit is up, you may qualify for long-term disability benefits.
Common Examples of Partial Disability
Whether your disability will be classified as total or partial depends on the rating given by your doctor. The doctor, in turn, will look at not just the disability itself but on how it affects your capacity to work.
For example, am encoder who lost a leg to amputation may still be able to do their job without much hiccup. But if the same disability happens to a construction worker, it can severely impact their working capability.
But in general, the following impairments are considered as a partial disability if the worker is still capable of earning a living:
- partial amputation
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- knee injury
- hearing loss
- loss of vision in one eye
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- nerve damage
- second or third-degree burns in some parts of the body
Partial Disability Benefits
Unlike total disability, there are only certain benefits you can receive if you are partially disabled. In most states, you’ll be eligible to lost wage benefits. Your employer should also provide for your medical expenses and any orthopedic therapies as may be necessary.
The computation of benefits varies per state. If you want to make sure that you get all the benefits that are rightfully yours by law, you should hire an experienced workers compensation lawyer.
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Victor Malca Law has over 25 years of litigation experience, we are the most trusted workers’ compensation lawyers in Florida. Our area of expertise is in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claim social security disability benefits.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer for Victor Malca Law P.A. and enjoys helping people with questions about social security, workers compensation, and other serious matters involving people’s livelihood. She is not an attorney and her writing should not be considered legal advice.