Every injured worker should understand the concept of maximum medical improvement (MMI). An injured worker is at MMI when he has reached a state where his condition is not expected to improve any further. Your condition at MMI and the time it takes you to reach this state can affect your workers’ compensation benefits. Here’s what you need to know:
Temporary Disability Benefits and Maximum Medical Improvement
An injured worker will typically receive temporary disability benefits until he has reached MMI. At this point, a doctor will evaluate the injured worker to determine if his condition is permanently disabling.
Stat § 85A-45 provides injured workers with up to 104 weeks of temporary total disability benefits. However, the amount of time it takes to reach MMI can vary depending on the injury, and 104 weeks is not enough time for some workers. For example, it may only take someone with a broken bone a few months to completely recover from their injury. But, someone with a brain injury may need to undergo years of treatment in order to reach MMI. This issue was recently addressed in Gillispie v. Estes. The judge presiding over this case ruled that workers who have not reached MMI after 104 weeks can continue to receive temporary disability benefits. Therefore, if it takes an injured worker longer than 104 weeks to reach MMI, he will continue to receive temporary disability benefits while he recovers.
What Happens Once An Injured Worker Reaches Maximum Medical Improvement?
Once the injured worker has reached MMI, he can request permanent disability benefits. The request for permanent disability benefits will need to be supported by testimony from doctors, chiropractors, and other healthcare providers. The administrative law judge presiding over the case will review the evidence of the worker’s condition before deciding whether or not permanent disability benefits should be awarded. If the condition is permanently disabling, the worker will start to receive permanent disability benefits.
The decision to award permanent disability benefits must wait until the worker has reached MMI otherwise there is no way of knowing how the worker’s condition will affect him in the future. Therefore, it is important to understand when you have reached MMI so you know the appropriate time to request permanent disability benefits.
Have you suffered an on-the-job injury? If so, contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Our experienced attorneys will fight to ensure you are awarded the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. 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.