Many clients want to know what money compensation they can receive by filing for workers’ compensation. That question is answered in a highly individualized way. Ultimately, the answer depends on the person themselves, the amount of their usual weekly wages, and the extent of the injuries they sustained. Workers’ compensation is not designed to make you rich. Instead, the focus of workers’ compensation is to fairly compensate you for your workplace injury. It ensures that you receive all necessary medical care and treatment and that your medical bills are fully paid. It seeks to reimburse you for any out-of-pocket expenses you incur for travel and other related costs. It compensates you for any permanent injuries or scarring that you sustained from your workplace accident. And perhaps most importantly, our workers’ compensation system provides wage replacement benefits for employees that can’t return to work due to their workplace injuries or occupational illnesses.
Wage replacement benefits can take several forms:
- Full Pay for Day of Injury
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
Full Pay For Day of Injury
You are entitled to receive your full payment from your employer for the date of your injury. They cannot deduct your pay for the day of your injury regardless of whether you can return to work after your accident.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
If you are too injured to return to work, you could get Temporary Total Disability Benefits for all workdays missed. This is because (at least temporarily) you are unable to go back to work because of the severity of your injuries. These benefits, commonly referred to as “TT” benefits, are the primary wage replacement benefits provided for under our workers’ compensation laws. To be eligible for these benefits, you need to be under a doctor’s care and supervision, and your doctor needs to provide their written opinion that you are unable to perform any work duties. In other words, you are fully disabled and cannot work in any capacity because of your workplace injury or illness.
TT benefits start on the fourth calendar day for which you are disabled after your accident. If your disability lasts seven or more calendar days, payment is owed retroactively to cover all your days of disability from work. The day of your injury itself is not counted. In counting the days of your incapacity from work, all calendar days are counted, even if you were not scheduled to work during any, or all, of them. Your weekly TT benefits, which are paid while you are totally disabled and incapacitated from working in any capacity, are equal to 75% of your after-tax average weekly wages (typical weekly wages minus federal taxes, state taxes, and FICA deductions). Your average weekly wages are calculated based upon your earnings during the 52 weeks before your injury or illness, subject to certain legislative maximum and minimum amounts.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
If your doctor believes that you can perform “light duty work,” and your employer does not have any light duty work available, you are entitled to Temporary Partial Disability Benefits, or “TP” benefits. These benefits are calculated and paid at the same rate as your TT benefits (75% of your after-tax average weekly wages). The Administrative Law Judge may condition your receipt of TP benefits by requiring you to perform job searches for other suitable employment.
There is an additional form of TP benefits that you could receive. In situations where you can return to work, but because of your workplace injury and its lingering effects, you return to a lower-paying job (likely described as either “light duty” or a “restricted” duty job), you are entitled to TP wage differential benefits.
For example, consider a scenario where, before you were injured, you were employed as a laborer in a high-paying hourly job. After your accident and workplace injury, you are no longer (at least temporarily) able to perform the duties of your former job. The lifting, pulling, bending, reaching, and standing involved are beyond your present physical capabilities. You can return to work, and thankfully your employer has a light duty job opening for you as a clerical worker.
However, this job only pays half of your former hourly pay rate as a laborer. It is not fair to you that you are losing money because of your injuries. Our workers’ compensation system provides differential wages through TP benefits to make up the difference to you. The TP benefits are equal to 75% of the after-tax difference between the wages that you are currently earning (on the lesser paying job) and the wages currently being paid in your former job.
There are several types of wage replacement benefits. You should not rely on your employer to make sure that you receive all the monetary benefits that you are entitled to receive. Contact our lawyers to discuss your eligibility for wage replacement benefits.