Can You Obtain Permanent Total Disability Benefits Before Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement?


Posted by: Chris

Many people who sustain work-related injuries are entitled to both temporary total disability benefits and permanent total disability benefits. Temporary disability benefits typically begin shortly after a work-related injury, whereas permanent disability benefits are not awarded until the victim has reached maximum medical improvement. But there are exceptions to this rule. Here’s what you should know:

Who is Eligible For Temporary and Permanent Total Disability Benefits?

Injured workers who cannot perform any type of work as a result of their injuries are eligible for temporary total disability benefits. These benefits are meant to make up for the wages that the worker has lost due to their injuries. 

The worker’s condition is re-evaluated once he has reached maximum medical improvement. A worker who has reached maximum medical improvement is not expected to improve any further even if he continues to receive treatment. The goal of this evaluation is to determine whether or not the work-related injuries will permanently impact the victim’s ability to return to work. If a victim will never be able to return to work, he is entitled to permanent total disability benefits. 

Are Permanent Total Disability Benefits Awarded Before Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement?

Temporary total disability benefits typically continue for up to 156 weeks. Most injured workers reach maximum medical improvement within the 156-week timeframe. But, workers with severe injuries may need more than 156 weeks to reach maximum medical improvement. If you are still recovering from your injuries after exhausting temporary total disability benefits, the law states that you may be eligible for permanent total disability benefits even though you have not reached maximum medical improvement.

For example, let’s say a worker is awarded temporary total disability benefits for a work-related neck injury. He is still being treated for this injury when his temporary total disability benefits end after 156 weeks. At this point, his doctor believes that his condition can still improve with further treatment, which means he has not reached maximum medical improvement yet. He cannot be evaluated for permanent total disability benefits since he is still recovering. But he can still receive permanent total disability benefits since he is still undergoing treatment and has exhausted his temporary total disability benefits. 

In rare cases like these, injured workers can obtain permanent total disability benefits even if they have not reached maximum medical improvement.

Have you been injured in the workplace? If so, seek legal representation from the attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. right away. Our attorneys will aggressively fight for the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to by law. 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.