Some work injuries can lead to physical and mental impairments that render you unable to work. Short-term disability can take care of such injuries when you can recover from your work-related injury.
However, if the injury leads to total impairment from gainful employment, you must consider applying for Permanent Disability benefits in California. This will cover your medical bills and daily expenses when you cannot work. If you feel that you should also apply for Permanent Disability benefits in California, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
Permanent Disability in California
Temporary benefits are designed to compensate for the wages lost during recovery from injuries or disabilities. They are paid till the disabled individual returns to work. However, Permanent Disability benefits are different. They are paid to those who are not expected to recover from their disability. These benefits are supposed to set off the loss of future earnings of the disabled worker calculated as a percentage from 0% to 100% in order to compensate for the disabled worker’s inability to compete in the labor market.
What qualifies as Permanent Disability in California?
Several medical conditions, including injuries and illnesses, qualify a worker for Permanent Disability benefits. One of such injuries is repetitive stress injury (RSI), which typically develops due to repetitive movements like typing or lifting heavy weights.
The following injuries also qualify workers for Permanent Disability benefits in California:
- Damage to knees and joints
- Amputations of body parts
- Nerve damage
- Hearing loss
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Spine injuries
- Neck injuries
- Respiratory Illnesses and diseases
- And more
Types of Permanent Disability Benefits
There are two types of Permanent Disability benefits:
- Permanent Partial Disability: People deemed partially disabled with a disability rating of less than 100% are entitled to weekly payments. The higher the disability rating, the more the number of weeks for which they can be paid and the more money they can receive as benefits. Permanent Partial Disability claims are the most commonest worker’s comp claims in the United States, constituting over half of all compensation claims.
- Permanent Total Disability: If you are 100% disabled and are also able to prove that the disabilities in question were a consequence of your work, you can receive weekly payments for your entire remaining life. But if your disability rating ranges between 70% to 90%, you can still receive a lifetime pension.
Getting Permanent Disability benefits in California
Workers in California generally do not get considered for Permanent Disability benefits unless they have exhausted their temporary disability benefits. Once the limit for temporary disability benefits is exhausted, you will be evaluated by your insurance company’s approved physician who will determine if you have reached “maximal medical improvement.”
The length of time it takes to reach the point where the insurance company-approved physician can vary anywhere from a few months to a few years after a worker suffers from an injury or illness.
To be able to recover these benefits, you must prove the following:
- Your injuries must have come from a job. Whether you were at the workplace at the time of your injury/ illness is irrelevant and you only need to prove that the disability was work-related.
- The nature, extent and severity of your injury/ illness must have caused disabilities.
- The disability prevents you from returning to work or disrupts your ability to do work.
How much does Permanent Disability pay in California?
The state of California maintains minimum and maximum benefits for those with temporary disabilities. In 2022, the minimum rate is $203.44 per week, and the maximum amount is $1,356.31 per week. However, Permanent Disability payments are given on a weekly basis, and the payment is two-thirds in ratio to the weekly wage prior to the disability.
For the purpose of calculating Permanent Disability benefits, your insurance company maintains a panel of approved doctors. You can fix an appointment to see one of these doctors and get your injuries evaluated. The doctor will rate your injury on a scale of 0% to 100%. Depending upon the rating, your workability in the labor market will be determined. The final benefits amount will depend on various factors including the medical evaluation of your injuries, area of work, age, wages precedent to the injury, and other circumstances.
Challenging the Disability rating
You may not agree with the disability rating awarded by the qualified medical examiner (QME). In that case, you can petition for a larger disability award through a second opinion. You will use the second opinion to petition the court. A workers’ compensation judge will hear your case and evaluate the relevant evidence to arrive at a decision.
If you want to apply for Permanent Disability benefits in California, please contact Sackettlaw to understand how to proceed further. Contact us today for a free case review.