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The Differences Between Permanent And Temporary Disability

After an on-the-job injury or work-related illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In addition to medical benefits, you can recover temporary and/or permanent disability benefits if your injuries or illness prevents you from working.

Continue reading to learn more about disability benefits, including both temporary and permanent disability benefits, or contact us directly to speak to one of our Wilmington workers’ compensation attorneys. At David & Associates, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, we have over a century of combined legal experience and can guide you through the process of filing your workers’ compensation claim, obtaining proper medical treatment, and seeking benefits to help with your related expenses.

Call our office at 910-208-0535 or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation. We have offices in Wilmington, Clinton, Jacksonville, Supply, Wallace and Whiteville.

What Are Disability Benefits?

Disability payments are a type of wage-replacement benefit meant to compensate you for lost income while you are out of work. Depending on the classification of your disability, you may receive these benefits in the form of weekly payments or a lump sum.

There are four different types of disability benefits:

Temporary Disability Benefits

There are two types of temporary disability benefits: temporary total disability (TTD) and temporary partial disability (TPD).

Temporary Total Disability Benefits

If your work-related injury or illness prevents you from performing the duties of your job entirely, as determined by a qualified medical professional, you could be eligible to receive temporary total disability benefits. TTD benefits are available for up to 500 weeks from the date of the injury/illness (or the date on which you discovered or reasonably should have discovered the injury/illness). If your injury/illness occurred before June 24, 2011, you may be entitled to lifetime TTD benefits.

In North Carolina, there is a seven-day waiting period for TTD benefits, meaning you must wait at least seven days before receiving benefits. These days do not need to be consecutive, nor do they need to be an entire missed day of work to count. If you were unable to work for part of a shift or a portion of the workday, this counts toward the seven days. Additionally, if your injury lasts for 21 days or more, you will be compensated for the seven days.

TTD benefits are calculated based on 2/3rds of your average weekly wage. “Average weekly wage” is a complex calculation set by the state. Our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you determine your “average weekly wage” and how this may affect your benefits.

Temporary Partial Disability Benefits

If you can return to work after your injury or illness, but you are only able to work in a limited capacity, you could be eligible for temporary partial disability benefits. Like TTD benefits, TPD benefits are available for up to 500 weeks (for injuries/illnesses occurring after June 24, 2011). This includes any period in which you received TTD benefits.

TTD benefits are calculated based on 2/3rds the difference between the wages you earn working in a limited capacity after your injuries/illness and your average weekly wage. As stated above, “average weekly wage” is based on a complex calculation. Contact our Wilmington workers’ compensation attorneys to learn more.

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Permanent Disability Benefits

Once your doctor determines that your injuries/illness has healed as much as it is going to, or that future medical treatment will not improve your condition, you have reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). If you continue to experience an impairment that meets the state’s “impairment schedule” (or a qualifying condition) after reaching MMI, you could be entitled to permanent disability benefits.

Like temporary disability, there are two types of permanent disability benefits in North Carolina: permanent partial disability (PPD) and permanent total disability (PTD).

Permanent Partial Disability Benefits

The North Carolina list of “scheduled injuries” outlines various injuries that are considered “disabling.” Each injury is assigned a benefits schedule, or the number of weeks for which a person with the injury can receive benefits. These are known as permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits.

Some examples of scheduled injuries under North Carolina workers’ compensation law include:

  • Loss of a finger/thumb
  • Loss of a toe
  • Loss of a hand
  • Loss of a foot
  • Loss of a leg
  • Loss of an eye
  • Loss of multiple limbs
  • Loss of hearing
  • Facial/head disfigurement
  • Bodily disfigurement
  • Severe back injuries
  • Loss of/permanent injury to external or internal organs

Once you have reached MMI, your doctor will determine a disability percentage for the impaired body part/function. This rating essentially equates to the loss of function. For example, your doctor may determine that you have lost about half the use of your back due to a back injury, resulting in a 50% impairment rating.

The impairment rating is used to calculate your benefits based on your compensation rate and the number of weeks that correspond to that particular body part (per the list of scheduled injuries). Know that you are entitled to a second opinion when it comes to your impairment rating. If you disagree with your doctor’s decision, you can see another doctor or specialist.

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Permanent Total Disability Benefits

Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are limited only to injured workers who meet specific criteria.

For injuries arising after June 24, 2011, only the following make an employee eligible for PTD benefits:

  • The loss of both hands, feet, arms, legs, eyes, or some combination of at least two of these
  • Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis of both arms or legs or the trunk
  • Specific traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe burns covering at least 33% of the body

If eligible, you can receive lifetime PTD benefits. However, you may be required to petition the North Carolina Industrial Commission to recover lifetime benefits. Our attorneys can aid you in this process, if appropriate.

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Contact David & Associates, Attorneys at Law, PLLC for a Free Consultation

Understanding your rights—and what benefits you are owed under North Carolina workers’ compensation law—is important, but it can also be very complicated. At David & Associates, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, our legal team is well-versed in the many nuances of the workers’ compensation system. We can help you understand your benefits, help you find a second opinion regarding your maximum medical improvement, petition to reinstate benefits, or handle any other related matters.

Since 1988, we have been tirelessly advocating for the rights of injured workers throughout southeastern North Carolina. If you have been injured on the job or are suffering an occupational illness that prevents you from working, reach out to our firm today to learn how we can help.

Call us at 910-208-0535 or submit an online contact form today for a complimentary consultation.