Give us a call today at (619) 528-9800 to schedule your free, initial consultation. We’ll have one of our workers’ compensation attorneys review your case with no obligation for representation.
Whether you work in an office, a warehouse, or a heavy truck, injury or illness can strike even the most cautious employee. Many injuries are minor, like a cut or a sprained ankle. But a major accident can leave you seriously injured or even disfigured to the point where you don’t expect to make a full recovery. In cases like these, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits through workers’ compensation.
Do I qualify for partial permanent disability or total permanent disability workers' compensation?
Depending on the severity of your condition, you may qualify for either partial permanent disability or total permanent disability. Partial permanent disability is the most common type of workers’ compensation claim. These benefits are paid to someone who isn’t totally disabled, but who has some sort of lasting impairment that will modify their ability to perform their job. Total permanent disability, on the other hand, is a term used when a person is injured or sick to the point where they are unable to work in any occupation for which they are suited by training, education, or experience.
In general, there are three main qualifiers that will determine your eligibility to collect permanent disability benefits through workers’ compensation.
Your Disability Must be a Work-Related Injury
As with all workers’ compensation claims, you must be able to prove that your injury or illness is related to your job in order to collect permanent disability benefits. Whether you fell and broke your ankle at an off-site business meeting or have become sick over time as a result of being exposed to toxic fumes, it’s important that your medical records reflect your claim that the incident is indeed work-related. A workers’ compensation attorney can be very helpful in this stage by gathering your medical records, arranging treatment with doctors who specialize in your condition and calling expert witnesses to testify at your trial.
Your recovery from your disability has hit a plateau
Second, before you can collect permanent disability benefits, your doctor has to determine your recovery has hit a plateau and that your condition isn’t likely to improve with additional treatment. When this happens, you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, also called MMI. At this point, your temporary disability payments will expire and your employer’s insurance carrier will assess whether you have any permanent limitations that will prevent you from performing your job.
You Must Have Lasting Impairments from your disability
The final qualifier for determining your eligibility for permanent disability benefits is that your condition must have lasting effects that will limit the type of work you can do. For example, you injured your shoulder and you can no longer lift heavy items. If you work in construction, this will have a major impact on your ability to compete in the job market. In this instance, you would be awarded permanent disability benefits to compensate you for your lasting impairment.
Gerald Brody & Associates Workers' Compensation Attorneys can help with disability claims
At the Law Offices of Gerald D. Brody & Associates in San Diego, we understand that sorting through the paperwork and navigating the complex workers’ compensation system can be challenging. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. Our professional attorneys have years of experience helping injured workers determine their eligibility for permanent disability benefits, and we would be honored to do the same for you.
Workers’ Comp vs. Disability Benefits
Workers’ compensation provides benefits to employees who suffer an injury or illness on the job. An injured employee can file for workers’ comp benefits to help cover medical expenses, loss of income, vocational retraining, and other financial hardships that arise out of his or her injury. This may be due to a single accident or repeated actions that result in an accumulative injury.
California state disability insurance (SDI) provides benefits to workers that suffer an injury or illness that is not caused by or related to work. An employee who gets hurt off the job can file for weekly SDI benefits to make up for lost wages while he or she is unable to work. SDI benefits are paid for up to 52 weeks or the amount of wages in your base period, whichever is less.
Can I collect workers’ comp and disability (SDI) benefits?
If you are injured at work and file for workers’ compensation benefits, you generally cannot collect SDI benefits for the same period of time. There are exceptions, though. For example, you may receive SDI benefits if your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier denies or delays payment. Another situation would be if your workers’ comp weekly benefit is less than your SDI weekly benefit. In this case, you may be eligible to receive the difference between the two rates.
Additionally, if your workers’ compensation benefits are about to run out and you still can’t go back to work, you can file for SDI benefits to receive another full year of wage replacement, if you’re eligible.
Am I eligible for SDI benefits?
If your injury is not related to work, or if your workers’ comp benefits are about to run out, you can file for SDI benefits to cover your expenses for up to 52 weeks. According to the State of California Employment Development Department, you must meet the following requirements to be eligible for SDI benefits:
- Be unable to work for eight consecutive days
- Be employed or actively looking for work at the time of disability
- Have lost income because of your disability
- Earned a minimum of $300 from which SDI deductions were withheld during a previous period
- Be under the care of a physician during the first eight days of disability
- Submit claim form (DE 2501) no earlier than nine and no later than 49 days after your disability begins
- Have your physician complete the medical certification of your disability
When you apply for SDI benefits, you may be required to undergo an independent medical examination to determine your initial or continuing eligibility.
Are you eligible for workers’ comp or disability benefits?
Suffering a serious injury or illness can be a traumatizing experience. However, it’s reassuring to know that California protects employees from the financial consequences of recovery with workers’ compensation and state disability insurance benefits. While you generally can’t collect both benefits at the same time, limited situations may permit “double dipping.” The best way to find out if you’re eligible is to schedule an appointment with the best workers’ comp attorney in San Diego.
Is My Job Safe While I’m Out of Work on Disability?
Legally, your employer cannot fire you because you report a workplace injury. However, there’s nothing stopping your employer from firing you while you have an open claim. Here’s why: Most employees have “at will” employment, which means your employer has a right to fire you at any time for any reason. However, when a workers’ compensation claim is involved, your employer must be able to prove that the reasons for your termination are unrelated to your claim.
Sometimes, an employer will retaliate and fire an employee who has filed for workers’ compensation without telling him or her that their claim is the reason for the termination. This is because most employers know it’s illegal and that the employee could then file a lawsuit for discrimination or retaliatory termination. Instead, the employer might tell the employee he or she is being fired due to poor work performance, restructuring of the company, or any other legal reason.
If you are fired while you’re out of work on disability and you suspect that it’s due to your workers’ compensation claim, regardless of whatever reason your employer gives you, it’s important to print emails and save any documentation that supports your suspicion. This evidence could help support your argument should you decide to hire a workers’ compensation attorney and take legal action against your employer.
Are You Afraid of Losing Your Job While Injured?
If you’ve been fired while you have an open workers’ compensation claim, or if you think your employer may fire you in the near future, please call us today. There are statutory limitations for the time you can file a lawsuit, and you don’t want your employer to get away with unlawfully terminating your employment.
At the Law Offices of Gerald D. Brody and Associates in San Diego, our highly skilled and experienced workers’ compensation attorneys will gather evidence to support your lawsuit for employment discrimination and fight hard on your behalf to help you collect the benefits you deserve. Contact us today by calling (619) 528-9800 to schedule your free, initial consultation. We look forward to serving you.