If a workers’ comp doctor has diagnosed with a hand injury that has resulted in a permanent disability, this means you could qualify for permanent disability benefits under the workers’ comp system. The amount of benefits you may receive – and for how long – is dependent on a number of factors, including your wages and impairment rating for your injury.
Permanent Disability Benefits in Iowa’s Workers’ Comp System
Your disability payment is based on 80 percent of your weekly spendable earnings. This is the amount that remains after deducting payroll taxes from your gross weekly earnings.
Next, you have to be categorized according to the type of permanent disability you have. The two categories are:
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD); and
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
If you receive a weekly disability benefit payout, the most you can get for a PPD injury is $1,419 per week. The most you can get for a PTD is $1,543 per week. The Healing Period (HP) benefit is paid during your recuperation from an injury that will ultimately result in a permanent impairment.
The HP benefits last until you:
- return to work;
- are not expected to improve any further; or
- are able to return to similar employment as that you were previously engaged.
The most you can receive for an HP benefit is $1,543 per week.
Calculating the Duration of Permanent Disability Benefits
If you have a PTD injury, Iowa workers’ comp says that you can receive benefits as long as you are permanently disabled and unable to work.
If you suffer from a PPD injury, which is likely the case for most injuries that produce permanent impairment, Iowa workers’ comp classifies permanent partial disabilities in two categories:
- scheduled; or
- unscheduled (industrial, body-as-a-whole).
A hand injury is a scheduled member injury. Each scheduled body part has a maximum number of weeks for which the disabled worker will receive PPD benefits. The number of weeks you will receive benefits for your particular disability is adjusted based on your impairment rating.
The maximum number of weeks a worker may receive PPD for a permanently injured hand is 190 weeks. So let’s say you have a fifty percent impairment rating. You would receive benefits for half of the maximum 190 weeks, or 95 weeks.
Disputes Regarding Your PPD Benefits
Dealing with permanent partial disabilities – whether involving the hand, arm, foot, leg, etc. – can create opportunities for disputes with the workers’ comp insurer. As your impairment rating is very important when you have a scheduled member disability, this is a common source of dispute.
Employers get to choose the worker’s doctor, and many injured workers suspect the employer-chosen doctor issues an impairment rating that is too low. In such cases workers may request an independent medical exam at the employer’s expense.
If you have questions concerning the benefits to which you are entitled for your permanent hand injury, call Walker, Billingsley & Bair at 888-436-9979 to schedule a free consultation.