Permanent Partial Disability
When an injured worker makes a claim for disability, the first step is temporary disability and corresponding medical treatment. The treatment may be brief or the treatment may last a long time. Either way, at some point, the claimant will reach maximum medical improvement.
Once maximum medical improvement is reached, if an injury exists that is “partial in character and permanent in quality,” the injured worker is entitled to compensation. Such compensation, like other workers’ compensation benefits, is expressed in “weeks” of compensation.
The calculation, especially for those dealing with workers’ compensation for the first time, can be a little complex. It is outlined below.
First, there is a table of body parts. Each body part has a corresponding number of “weeks of compensation” attached to it. If a body part is deemed to be 100% disabled after an injury, the injured worker gets that number of “weeks of compensation.” (SEE the injury table at the bottom of the page)
However, the employer/insurer does not pay the full salary for those “weeks of compensation.” Only a set percentage of the AWW is paid as compensation. In fact, the smaller the number of “weeks of compensation,” the smaller the percentage of the AWW paid for each “week of compensation.”
Calculating How Much Permanent Partial Disability
There are three tiers of injuries:
- First tier – Less than 75 compensable weeks (Minor disability)
- Second tier – 75-249 compensable weeks
- Third Tier – 250 or more compensable weeks of compensation
- First tier pays one-third of the injured workers’ AWW, not to exceed $167 per week.
- Second tier pays two-thirds of the injured workers’ AWW, not to exceed $333 per week
- Serious disability pays two-thirds of the injured workers’ AWW, not to exceed $749 per week
The amounts above are for injuries occurring in 2014. The specific dollar caps are based on percentages of the SAWW. For injuries occurring before 2014, the numbers will be slightly smaller.
Steps to Determine How Much PPD in Workers’ Comp
Therefore, the first step is to determine AWW. Step two is to determine the number of compensable weeks. (This almost always involves the claimant saying he is very hurt and the insurer saying he’s barely hurt.) Step three is a hearing to determine the final percentage of injury. Step four is calculating the percentage of average weekly wage the injured worker is entitled to. Step five is multiplying that percentage times the number of compensable weeks, then subtracting attorney’s fees.
Workers’ Comp Injury Table – Number of Compensable Weeks
Thumb 100 weeks
Fingers 25-40 weeks
Great Toe 40 weeks
Other toes 10 weeks
Hand 250 weeks
Arm 300 weeks
Foot 250 weeks
Leg 300 weeks
Eye 250 weeks
Hearing 125 weeks per ear
Other cases 500 weeks