Learn what disability ratings are and why they matter in workers’ compensation
When an employee in Georgia suffers an injury or becomes ill due to circumstances on the job, most are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits according to state law. If a doctor deems the ailment as severe, the employee may be eligible for disability payments.
But first, the injured worker must be assigned a “disability rating”.
In this article, we’ll discuss what this rating is, how it’s calculated and how it might impact your workers’ compensation or disability claim.
What is a disability rating in workers’ compensation?
As soon as the injury occurs, or symptoms of a job-related illness begin, you must undergo an independent medical evaluation (IME) by a doctor. The evaluation may involve oral and physical examinations, laboratory testing and imaging studies as needed. The doctor will use these results to determine the appropriate disability rating.
The rating is typically based on guidelines found in the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment established by the American Medical Association (AMA). This rating serves as a guideline to determine the amount of workers’ compensation you’ll receive. According to the workers’ comp disability rating calculator, the benefits will continue for a designated number of weeks.
Types of disability categories
The impairment rating payout depends on the severity of the illness or injury suffered by the employee. Doctors may determine that an employee is temporarily partially disabled, temporarily totally disabled, permanently partially disabled or permanently totally disabled.
Temporary partial disability (TPD)
Doctors assign a TPD rating to an employee who is able to engage in light work duty, a modified job position or limited work hours. Under this category, a worker may suffer decreased wages. Thus, workers comp’ supplements the difference between their former and current wages.
Benefits generally amount to two-thirds of the difference between past and present wages. In Georgia, employees are entitled to a maximum of $450 each week (if you were injured on or after July 1, 2019). The payments continue for up to 350 weeks, or when they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Temporary total disability (TTD)
Employees receive compensation under TTD when an illness or injury prevents them from working for a minimum of 7 days. The impairment rating payout entails two-thirds of a worker’s weekly salary.
Employees are entitled to receive up to $675 each week for up to 400 weeks. The length of time benefits are paid depends on when an employee reaches MMI. Those who don’t fully recover are then eligible for permanent disability payments.
Permanent partial disability (PPD)
The effects of an injury or illness under permanent partial disability don’t prevent someone from working. However, it means the employee has suffered permanent bodily damage. The amount of workers’ compensation benefits paid are categorized as scheduled or unscheduled awards.
Employees receive scheduled awards after suffering damage to hearing, vision, fingers, hands, feet or legs. The amount of monetary benefits paid is equal to two-thirds of the difference between past and present salaries. A schedule detailing specific injuries serves as a guide for the length of time an injured employee receives these benefits:
Scheduled PPD awards in Georgia
|Injury||Duration of benefits|
|Hearing loss in 1 ear||75 weeks|
|Hearing loss in both ears||150 weeks|
|Index finger||40 weeks|
|Middle finger||35 weeks|
|Ring finger||30 weeks|
|Little finger||25 weeks|
|Big toe||30 weeks|
|Any other toe||20 weeks|
|Total body disability||300 weeks|
Unscheduled awards refer to payments made for illness or injuries not mentioned in this list. The injuries may involve internal damage to the brain, other organs or the spine.
The duration of the impairment rating payout is determined by a physician’s determination and the workers’ comp disability rating calculator. Employees may receive benefits for up to 300 weeks. The amount of awards received depends on the location of the affected area and the severity of the damage.
Permanent total disability (PTD)
Payments for permanent total disability are determined by the rating assigned in lieu of the extent and location of the damage suffered. Total disability coverage begins when an impairment can’t physically improve any further. Injuries under this category often include amputations, blindness, paralysis and other spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Benefits of consulting our Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys
It is not unusual for the State Board of Workers’ Compensation to disagree with a physician’s initial findings. The organization may require an employee to receive a further evaluation by a different doctor 1 or more times before reaching a final decision.
The process can become frustrating and depressing for an employee faced with monthly bills as well as current and ongoing medical costs while living with decreased or discontinued wages.
Employees need the assistance of an experienced workers’ comp attorney when:
- Employers refuse to pay the claim
- Employers fail to promptly pay benefits
- The event occurred secondary to employer misconduct
- A settlement doesn’t adequately cover lost wages or medical expenses
- When the current condition prevents employees from returning to their former position or prevents them from working
- Employee wants to prevent interference with Social Security benefits
- The event occurred secondary to the actions of a third party