How is Permanent Disability Determined?

When you become injured or ill due to a workplace accident, there are a number of questions that run through your mind. “How will I pay the bills if I can’t work?” “Will I qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?” and “Could I get fired if I take time off to recover?” are just a few of the many thoughts that ring through your head at all hours of the night. Another question that’s likely on your mind is, “When will I be able to return to work – if ever?”

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This question is undoubtedly on your employer’s mind, too. After all, the more serious your injury is, the more involved and prolonged your treatment will be. If your injuries are severe, you’ll likely receive a fairly high permanent disability rating. Also called a permanent impairment rating, this assessment directly impacts the compensation you receive to cover medical bills, rehabilitation, and missed wages.
How is permanent disability determined?

If you suffer an injury or illness that permanently affects your ability to perform your job function in any way, whether physical or mental, then you have permanent impairment. Once your medical condition stabilizes and reaches a point where further functional improvement is unlikely, despite continued treatment or rehabilitation, your condition is called “permanent and stationary” (P&S). This is referred to as the point in time when you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).

Once you’ve reached MMI, either your doctor or an independent medical examiner that handles workers’ compensation cases will assess your condition through a physical and/or mental exam, including a variety of tests. With the results from these tests, your doctor will use guidelines established by the state of California to determine the degree of your permanent disability. This is what’s called a permanent disability rating.

What Factors Determine a Permanent Disability Rating?

Your permanent disability rating is extremely important in defining the benefits and compensation you’re entitled to receive from your employer and its insurance carrier. Ratings are based on several factors, including your medical condition, the date of your injury, your age when the injury occurred, your occupation and how much of your disability is caused by your job, compared to how much it is caused by other factors.

In California, a permanent disability rating is referred to in percentages. Each injured body part is evaluated separately and given its own rating. Then, all of the ratings are combined to determine an overall level of impairment. A rating of 100 percent means you have a permanent total disability. If you receive a rating between 1 percent and 99 percent, you have a permanent partial disability.

Have Questions About Your Permanent Disability Rating?

At the Law Offices of Gerald D. Brody & Associates, we’ve helped countless injured employees make sense of the complicated workers’ compensation system. If you have questions about the permanent disability rating you received or disagree with your permanent disability rating, give us a call. We’ll review your case and explain it to you in plain terms. Even better, it won’t cost you a dime.

Contact us today to schedule your free, initial consultation with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys. We look forward to serving you.