There are several parts to the workers’ compensation process that you will likely have questions about, but often the most confusing is how wage loss benefits work. As it suggests at face value, wage loss benefits cover lost wages that you suffered because of a work accident. You missed work because you got injured at work or had to miss work because of your injury, you are entitled to compensation for that through workers’ compensation. However, these lost wages can be split into multiple categories depending on the nature of your injury, which is what makes it more complicated than its rather straightforward definition.
How Much Will Be Covered By Wage Loss Benefits?
Even if you can return to work rather soon after an accident, you still may be entitled to wage loss benefits. In order to collect wage loss benefits, you must restrictions in your ability to work, ideally written by your doctor. In most cases, your doctor will restrict you from activities such as lifting, carrying, or standing for too long. You may also have more specific job restrictions if your doctor thinks this could irritate your injury and prevent prompt healing. These restrictions could be very temporary while healing or they could last a lifetime from permanent damage. This is where wage loss benefits can become more complex.
Essentially, wage loss benefits in workers’ compensation are divided into four categories. These include:
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD) – These are the most common type of wage loss benefits. They are for workers that missed work, can only work a few hours, or are otherwise making less than their usual wage because of the injury. Unfortunately, these benefits are limited to 66% of the difference between your average weekly wage and your current earnings. Essentially it helps make up the difference of the wage you are losing out on, but is not going to match the amount or net you more that you would otherwise be paid. You can collect this benefit for 225 weeks or 275 weeks depending on when your injury happened.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD) – If you cannot return to work right now, but are expected to, you will receive Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. These benefits are limited to 66% of your average weekly take home pay at the time of the injury, calculated by looking over past pay stubs from the past 26 weeks of work. There are some exceptions to this that could increase your benefits you should discuss with an attorney. Typically, you can only collect this for up to 130 weeks, but that may be extended if you cannot return to your current job, but have job retraining set up through the system in order to find new employment.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD) – If you have reached your maximum medical improvement, meaning you will heal no further from the injury, then you may receive Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits if you did not fully heal and have permanent work restrictions. In instances such as where you no longer have full range of motion in a shoulder, for example, you may be assigned a percentage that is considered your PPD rating. You may then recover a monetary value based on that percentage. The more serious the loss of function is, the higher the monetary amount that will be paid, but every permanent injury is calculable at a different percentage. The more serious a permanent injury, the more it will pay. If you were to lose a tooth compared to loss of sight in one eye, obviously the partial blindness will be a more serious permanent disability. As such, the partial blindness will have a higher PPD rating.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD) – These are reserved for the most serious of work injuries that leave you unable to work at all for the rest of your life. Depending on your age, the threshold that qualifies you for Permanent Total Disability benefits can differ. So an injury that leaves a 50 year old disabled for the rest of their life and collecting this benefit may not be the same for a 21 year old. Your workers’ compensation attorney and doctors can help your predict how well you will likely heal and if your age and injury might qualify you for this benefit, though the only way to know for sure is to see how you heal over time.You will receive wage loss benefits until 72 or until your presumed retirement age based on your current age and health. This amount will, like the other above benefits, still be 66% of your average weekly wage in most cases, so unfortunately it will not cover everything. In some limited cases, the PTD rate is higher. You will also want to be aware that receiving benefits like Social Security or PERA will offset this amount.
While the above lays out the general rules for each of the four types of wage loss benefits, they will be different from person to person. A number of factors can affect how much, how long, and what sort of benefits you get from the workers’ compensation system after a work injury. While you will never come out ahead with wage loss benefits from workers’ compensation because of that 66% cap, you can get as close to breaking even as possible and ensure that your bills are still being paid.
If you have been hurt at work, it can leave you in a troubling situation. So many people depend on their next paycheck to make ends meet, and an injury can completely throw a wrench in that. If you have been hurt and need to navigate the complex realm of workers’ compensation to get the coverage for your lost wages or medical bills that you need, contact us today. Harvey & Carpenter, Attorneys at Law are dedicated to helping Minnesota’s injured workers get the coverage for their injuries without all the headache of trying to go it alone.