Who Determines if an Injured Worker is Entitled to Permanent Disability Benefits?

Posted by: Chris

When a work-related injury is permanently disabling, the worker is entitled to permanent disability benefits through the workers’ compensation system. If the worker cannot work at all, he should be awarded permanent total disability benefits. However if he can work, but cannot perform the same job duties he did prior to the accident, he should be awarded permanent partial disability benefits. Who has the authority to determine whether or not you should receive permanent disability benefits? Here’s what you should know:

Who Determines If Injured Workers Are Permanently Disabled?

According to 85A OK Stat § 45, the administrative law judges associated with the Workers’ Compensation Commission are responsible for determining who is permanently disabled.

How Do Administrative Law Judges Make This Decision?

An administrative law judge cannot determine if someone is permanently disabled without hearing from medical professionals first. If you are requesting permanent disability benefits, you must be able to support your claim with testimony from a healthcare professional.

The evaluating physician must be confident that the disability is related to the workplace injury. The doctor must also present objective medical findings as evidence of your disability. This means the doctor must rely only on concrete evidence such as lab reports and X-rays when determining if a patient is disabled or not. For example, let’s say the doctor cannot find evidence of a disability on your lab reports or X-rays, but you tell him you are in a great deal of pain. The doctor cannot take your pain levels into consideration since this is subjective, not objective.

Both parties in a workers’ compensation case are allowed to present objective evidence from medical professionals. While you are attempting to prove you are permanently disabled, your employer’s insurance company may attempt to show you are not. The administrative law judge will decide whether or not you qualify for permanent disability benefits after hearing from both sides.

Annual Reviews of Disability Benefits

If you are awarded permanent total disability benefits, the Workers’ Compensation Commission will need to review your condition from time to time. Every year, you will be required to submit an affidavit that states you are still unable to work because of your disability. It’s important to be honest about your condition when writing the affidavit. In fact, if the affidavit contains false information, you could be charged with perjury.

Have you sustained a work-related injury? If so, contact our attorneys as soon as possible. Our experienced attorneys will fight for the temporary or permanent disability benefits you deserve. Please call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. today at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.