What Is An Impairment Rating?


Posted by: Chris

A number of questions must be answered following a work-related injury. Can the victim perform his job duties? Can he perform any type of work at all? How will the injury impact his ability to work in the future? Impairment ratings are used to answer these questions and determine a victim’s eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. 

What Is An Impairment Rating?

During the workers’ compensation claim process, a physician will evaluate the injured worker’s condition and calculate an impaired rating. An impairment rating is a percentage that reflects the severity of a worker’s injury and the extent to which the injury impacts the victim’s daily life. Expressing impairment in a percentage form ensures that the insurance company, employer, and other parties understand exactly how the injury is impacting the victim.

How Are Impairment Ratings Calculated?

The law requires physicians to rely on the American Medical Association’s “Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment” when calculating an impairment rating. This guide outlines how to determine impairment ratings for different parts of the body. 

For example, the guide instructs physicians to test a worker’s range of motion, sensory issues, and loss of strength to determine the permanent effects of a spinal injury. The results of these tests are used to calculate an impairment rating that falls between 0-100%. This percentage represents the total body functioning you have lost due to your spinal injury. If you are given a 20% impairment rating, for instance, this means that you have lost 20% of your total body function as a result of your spinal injury.

How Will Impairment Ratings Affect Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Impairment ratings are used to determine whether an injured worker is eligible for permanent partial disability benefits and if so, how long the benefits should continue. The higher your impairment rating, the longer permanent partial disability benefits will continue.

For example, let’s say a victim is given a 20% impairment rating for a spinal injury. Permanent partial disability benefits are paid for a maximum of 360 weeks. Because of your impairment rating, you are only entitled to 20% of the 360 weeks of benefits, which is 72 weeks. 

If you are unable to work after suffering a work-related injury, contact the attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. right away. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to ensure you are fully compensated for your work-related injuries. 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.