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Need-to-knows about workers comp disability

You may know that you are covered by workers’ compensation if you are injured on the job. But do you understand what benefits you are entitled to?

There are three categories of disability benefits, which can be confusing. Below is a basic breakdown of each type and when it applies.

The 3 types of disability benefits

You are covered by New Jersey workers’ compensation for injury or illness arising from your employment. Workers’ comp pays all associated medical care, and provides disability benefits (monetary compensation) if you can’t work or suffer lasting impairment.

  • Temporary disability – If you need to take 7 or more days off from work to recuperate, you are compensated for the lost paychecks.  The amount is equal to 70 percent of regular wages, up to a maximum amount. Benefits stop when you return to work (or after a max of 400 weeks).

  • Permanent total disability (PTD) – A finding of “permanent and total” disability means you can’t return to your job or similar work. PTD benefits (70 percent of weekly wages) do not stop unless you greatly recover. Some injuries automatically qualify, such as loss of both arms or both eyes. Other injuries must be verified by a doctor as constituting permanent and total impairment.

  • Permanent partial disability (PPD) – This means that you have lost part of your body or lost a major function, but you can still work. Certain body parts are assigned a “scheduled loss” value. For example, an amputated foot is compensated at 230 weeks’ worth of the person’s regular pay. Other permanent partial impairments are expressed as a percentage of disability. For example, a spinal condition might be rated at 20 percent disability, meaning you would be paid 20 percent of your weekly wages in addition to your regular earnings.

When should you bring in a lawyer?

Employers and their insurers may deny claims if they think it's not work-related. They may downplay the disability to reduce the amount or duration of benefits. Or they may angle to terminate benefits if they believe the disability is exaggerated or the persons’ health has improved. It may be a good idea to consult a lawyer when you file a workers’ compensation claim, to ensure that your rights are protected and your disability benefits are properly calculated.

 

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