As the name suggests, permanent partial disability (PPD) refers to impairments that perpetually prevent someone from working at full capacity.
This usually includes amputation, back injuries, loss of vision in one eye, and hearing loss among others. Though psychological issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may also qualify for such.
So how much do you get for permanent partial disability?
In the US, there are two ways to get permanent partial disability benefits:
- workers compensation
- social security disability benefits
If you qualify for both, you obviously get bigger benefits. But in general, permanent partial disability benefits are lower than the income you were earning right before you got injured. Some people receive up to 80% of their average weekly wage while others may only be entitled to 20%.
Workers Compensation for PPD
Since workers’ compensation is implemented on a state level, the policies can vary significantly. Each state has different ways and rates for computing workers’ compensation benefits.
In most states, the benefits are computed using a “schedule” of losses. Under this approach, disabilities that involve the loss of a body part are given corresponding values. The value varies per state as well as the type of disabilities.
Most of the time, scheduled losses aren’t limited to amputations. It doesn’t even have to involve amputation. Many states’ schedules include loss of hearing, vision, and the use of certain body parts like arms, toe, legs, and hands among others. States like New York and Illinois also include scarring and disfigurement in their schedules.
For injuries that are not listed in the schedule, most states will employ the impairment-based approach. This is where disabled workers are given impairment ratings based on the severity of their injury. The degree of which is assessed by your doctor after you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Unlike scheduled losses, there is no standard on evaluating scheduled losses. It pretty much depends on the doctor’s discretion. Thus, it’s common for two doctors to come up with different ratings.
Your impairment rating will determine your benefits as well as how many weeks you’ll receive it. But for permanent partial disabilities, you’ll most likely continue to receive it well into your retirement. In most states, however, your disability benefits will reduce once you start earning an income that’s equal to or more than what you were earning before the injury.
Loss of Earning Capacity Approach
Implemented only in a handful of states, this approach isn’t as popular as the impairment-based one. But it’s beneficial for injured workers whose earning capacity is permanently affected.
Under this, the state gives more weight on how your injury affects your ability to earn money in the future. It still takes into consideration the extent of your injury. But in addition, factors such as your age, education, and vocational training will also be taken into account.
Wage Loss Approach
Since most permanent partial disability beneficiaries can still work, some states will only pay them the actual wages lost. Or the difference between their previous and present wage, whichever is applicable. This is termed as the wage loss approach.
For example, you were earning $1,000 a week before your injury. Upon returning to work, it’s clear that you can’t do your previous job anymore. So you were assigned a different job that pays only $500 a week. The wage difference of $500 will be covered by workers’ compensation.
Under this, the injured worker won’t have to worry about any loss of income. But it may discourage them from going back to work as soon as they’re able. Besides, in most cases, it’s difficult to prove that the workers’ reduced income is due to their injury.
Social Security Disability Benefits for PPD
Unlike worker’s compensation, social security disability benefits are funded by the federal government. So the rules and policies are the same whichever state you’re in.
In general, you can claim social security disability benefits (SSDI) if:
- you have enough social security credits
- your medical condition meets the SSA’s definition of disability
If you’ve worked in jobs that pay social security taxes, then you have earned social security credits. How many credits you need depends on your age when you became disabled.
SSA’s definition of disability, however, does not focus on the severity of your injury. Rather, it evaluates how your injury affects your ability to work. Plus, it only gives benefits to disabilities that are expected to last for at least a year or result in death.
So if you’re eligible for permanent partial disability benefits under workers’ comp, you may also be eligible for SSDI. Provided, however, that you meet the other eligibility requirements and your income falls below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit.
If you want to make sure that you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to, you should hire a 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.