Massachusetts provides benefits for five types of workers’ compensation disability claims. These are 1) temporary total disability, 2) temporary partial disability, 3) permanent partial disability, 4) permanent and total disability, and 5) death. Total disability is paid for up to three years when an injury prohibits any ability to work. Benefits for permanent and total disability typically pay a percentage of an injured worker’s wages, on a permanent basis. Workers’ Compensation death benefits are designed to help families of workers who have died from a work-related injury or illness. However, the majority of workers’ compensation claims in the United States are permanent partial disability (PPD).
What is Permanent Partial Disability?
If an employee’s work-related injury has lessened his or her ability to work to some degree, but not entirely, PPD benefits may be available. This reduced earning capacity may be triggered by a necessity to change jobs, work less hours, or work for decreased wages. The injured worker’s physician uses American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines to determine the level of disability. In addition to injuries from falls, burns, or fallen objects, these AMA guidelines also cover occupational diseases, such as respiratory conditions from allergen exposure, neurological disorders from metals or pesticides, and even carpal tunnel syndrome. PPD standard coverage can last no more than 5 years (260 weeks). However, coverage may be extended to 520 weeks if there is a 75% permanent loss of body function or a diagnosis of a perpetual life-threatening condition such as:
- Spinal cord damage
- Loss of organ functioning, such as lungs, kidney, urinary, or bowel function
- Damaged equilibrium
- Loss of mental functioning, such as short term memory loss or language comprehension
- Autoimmune disease
How is PPD Calculated?
In Massachusetts, workers’ compensation benefits may include coverage for medical expenses, compensation for permanent disfigurement, loss of function, potential vocational retraining, and 60% of average income. With PPD, up to 75% of the worker’s average income is possible. However, calculations are largely determined by the extent and nature of the injury. With a less severe injury, coverage of 25% may be available for a shorter period of time. At the other end of the spectrum, an employee that continues working while battling a work-related cancer may receive 75% of wages for an extended period of time. Each case is determined by its unique circumstances. Coverage can range from 1% to 75% of the worker’s average income.
What Are the Most Common Types of PPD Injuries?
Because of the repetitive nature of many physically-demanding occupations, back injuries are the most common type of PPD injury. Other common conditions related to PPD claims include:
- Nerve damage
- Knee injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis
- Hearing or vision loss
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you have suffered a work-related injury, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Massachusetts workers compensation lawyer, with offices located in Boston, Cambridge, and Salem, Altman & Altman, LLP has been serving the community for over 40 years. We believe our clients deserve personalized attention, and we treat each case as though it’s our one and only. Facing medical expenses and lost wages after a work injury can be a daunting task. Whether you are filing an initial claim or proceeding with an appeal, our legal team will help you determine the best strategy for obtaining the compensation you deserve. Contact us at Altman & Altman, LLP for a free consultation about your case.