Temporary partial vs total disability benefits in Georgia’s workers’ compensation system
On-the-job injuries are sadly quite common throughout Georgia. And when they occur, it’s not always possible for the worker to return to their previous job. In some cases, the worker’s doctor only clears them for light duty. Other workers are temporarily prohibited from returning to work.
Both sets of these workers may be facing a serious reduction in their weekly income. A worker who is forced to take light duty may be working fewer hours than they are accustomed to, or they may be working a job that pays a lower wage. An employee who can’t return to work is facing an even more troubling and uncertain future.
Fortunately, it’s possible for injured workers to claim temporary disability benefits—partial or total. Thanks to these programs, people who receive an on-the-job injury get to keep bringing home income that is more in line with what they were earning before they got hurt.
Have questions? Chat with one of our experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys to learn more about the claims process.
Temporary vs. permanent disability
Some workers who are injured on the job receive benefits from both temporary total and permanent partial disability. Unfortunately, understanding these different benefits and why you are (or are not) receiving them tends to be confusing.
Temporary partial disability benefits compensate you for lost wages. If you can’t work because of your injury, then the insurance company must pay you these benefits.
However, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability payments if your body suffered a permanent impairment because of your injury.
Both of these benefits should be paid to the injured worker on a weekly basis and the amounts should be equal to each other.
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits
Workers may be entitled to receive temporary partial disability benefits when they are able to go back to work but are making less money than they were prior to the injury. They may be earning less money because they are able to work fewer hours or because they must take a job that pays less than the position they were in before the injury.
To make up for this difference, the employer’s workers’ compensation may pay the employee TPD benefits on a weekly basis.
How much will your temporary partial disability benefits be?
To find out how much you’ll earn, you’ll need to know your average weekly wage before you became hurt and the average weekly wage that you’re earning now.
The temporary disability benefits that you’ll receive will be equal to two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages. State law designates a maximum possible benefit of $450 per week if your injury occurred after July 1, 2019.
For example, let’s assume that you earned $900 per week before your injury. After your injury, your average weekly wage is reduced to $600. The difference between these 2 figures is $300.
This means that your weekly benefit would be two-thirds of $300, which is $200.
How long do TPD benefits last?
According to the law in Georgia, injured workers are entitled to, at most, 350 weeks of TPD benefits. In some cases, this is enough time to allow for the worker to be released back to full-time work or to the same position they held before.
Unfortunately, not everyone is able to return to full-time work or their previous job after receiving an injury. For these workers, it may be necessary to apply for permanent disability benefits.
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits
Workers may qualify for temporary total disability benefits in Georgia if their doctor says that they can’t return to work or if their employer is unable to accommodate required light-duty restrictions.
The temporary total disability benefit is equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage. Typically, the calculation is based on the prior 13 weeks of wages immediately prior to the accident.
Employees who have been on the job for fewer than 13 weeks will have their TTD benefits calculated based on the gross weekly earnings of a similarly situated worker in the same job.
Georgia state law places a maximum weekly compensation rate of $675 on TTD benefits.
How long does TTD last?
It is possible for injured workers in Georgia to receive these benefits for a maximum of 400 weeks, but such benefits may be terminated based on a change in your situation. These changes may include your doctor’s authorization for you to return to work or your eligibility for permanent partial disability benefits.
If you return to work on your own, these benefits also will cease. If your doctor clears you to return to light duty, then you may become eligible for temporary partial disability benefits.
How do you know if you’re receiving the right benefits?
Injured workers have a lot to deal with. In addition to being hurt, they are trying to keep their family feeling secure while dealing with these sudden financial burdens. It can be hard to know that they’re getting all of the benefits to which they are entitled.
This is why it’s critical for people who were injured on the job in Georgia to contact a qualified Georgia workers’ compensation attorney at Gerber & Holder.
With knowledgeable legal counsel working for you, it’s possible for you to focus on recovering, knowing that you’re receiving all the benefits to which they are entitled.