Many workers sustain serious on-the-job injuries that interfere with their ability to work. Fortunately, these workers are usually entitled to temporary disability benefits, which are awarded through the workers’ compensation system. Temporary disability benefits are awarded to workers who are temporarily unable to work because of a work-related injury. How long should an injured worker expect to receive these benefits? Here’s what you need to know:
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits vs. Temporary Total Disability Benefits
There are two main types of temporary disability benefits: temporary partial and temporary total benefits. The latter are awarded when the worker cannot work at all because of his work-related injury. If the worker is unable to perform his job duties, but can still perform some sort of alternative work provided by his employer, he is eligible for temporary partial benefits instead of temporary total benefits.
When Will Temporary Partial Disability Benefits End?
Temporary partial disability benefits will end whenever the worker is able to return to his regular work. However, these benefits cannot be awarded for more than 52 weeks.
When Will Temporary Total Disability Benefits End?
Temporary total disability benefits will continue as long as you are unable to work. But, these benefits cannot be awarded for more than 104 weeks in most cases. If you suffer a consequential injury during your recovery, the benefits can be extended by an additional 52 weeks if necessary.
There is one more general exception to the 104-week time limit. In Gillispie v. Estes, the judge ruled that a claimant could receive temporary total disability benefits “until the claimant is determined by his treating physician(s) to have reached MMI, not to exceed the maximum period of PTD prescribed in 85A O.S., §45(D)(1)." Because of this ruling, an injured worker can continue to receive temporary total disability benefits in excess of 104 weeks if his doctor believes he has not reached maximum medical improvement yet.
Exceptions for Hernias, Soft Tissue Injuries, and Mental Illnesses
The rules are different for some workers, including those who have suffered hernias and soft tissue injuries. Temporary disability benefits cannot be awarded for more than six weeks for workers with hernias. If you have a soft tissue injury, the benefits are limited to a total of eight weeks.
Mental illnesses are also treated differently by the workers’ compensation system. A worker who is suffering from a work-related mental illness will usually only receive benefits for 26 weeks. However, this can be extended to 52 weeks if the worker is able to present evidence that shows the extension is necessary.
What Happens After Benefits End?
If you have reached the end of your temporary disability benefits, you may qualify for permanent disability benefits. But, these benefits are only awarded to workers who are still unable to work as a result of their injuries.
Have you suffered an on-the-job injury? If so, let the attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. fight for the compensation you deserve. Our experienced attorneys will stand by your side through every step of the process of filing for workers’ compensation benefits. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.