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Moncks Corner Legal Issues Blog

Your injury and the workers’ compensation disability rating

If you sustain an on-the-job injury, you will probably qualify to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

Under this insurance program, every work-related injury or condition has a disability rating. How does the rating system work?

About the rating system

As part of the workers’ compensation process, a doctor will assign a disability rating to your injury. This represents a percentage of the full value of the injured part of your body. The rating reflects either a disability or an impairment. Under workers’ compensation, a disability refers to a work-related injury or condition that causes a reduction in your wage-earning ability. As to impairment, the American Medical Association defines this as a deviation in bodily function or a change in your health.

Physician requirement

Each state has rules about impairment ratings and who can conduct them. Most states require that the only physicians who can assign such ratings are those certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties. As the injured employee, you must reach maximum medical improvement before the doctor who treats you will assign a rating. You will receive the disability rating if you are still demonstrating a reduction in functional ability because of the impairment.

Types of disability

There are normally four types of disability: temporary total, temporary partial, permanent partial or permanent total disability. If you have a temporary total disability, you will be able to return to work once you recover and will not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, if your impairment allows you to work part-time or at a job that is less demanding than the one you had, you can receive temporary partial disability benefits. If you have a severe impairment that prevents you from working ever again, you likely qualify for permanent total disability benefits.