What if I can’t work anymore due to an on-the-job injury?

Physical therapyAn employee left unable to work due to a workplace injury is in a difficult situation, but may still have options to collect an income to support him or herself. We offer complete services to those injured on the job, including those facing a future with a complete disability.

Who is considered to have a permanent total disability?

After a workplace injury, you will go through treatment and rehabilitation to improve your condition. You will reach your Maximum Medical Improvement, and a doctor will determine whether the injury will totally disable you and prevent future work.

If a catastrophic work-related injury or occupational disease causes a complete inability to return to work, the employee may collect benefits for a permanent total disability. This total disability is presumed when a worker loses the use of two or more major body parts (such as eyes, arms, hands, legs or feet). It can also be proven with facts concerning other types of conditions that establish a complete inability to resume gainful employment.

Permanent total disability benefits can be paid for up to 450 weeks. These payments can be like a pension with a regular disbursement or a lump sum. The amount is usually 70 percent of the average weekly wage, subject to certain caps and minimums. These payments can be extended past the 450 weeks if the claimant can prove the disabling condition continues to prevent a return to work.

Other sources of income

Workers’ compensation may not be the only benefit a totally disabled employee could tap into. Through the employer, or purchased by the worker, there may be a private disability insurance policy that could be used. Many of our clients can also receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

If you become totally disabled, SSDI can provide income if you have been paying into Social Security for a sufficient time (that amount changes each year) and it’s been determined you are disabled.

  • In 2014, you earn one credit for each $1,200 of wages. When you’ve earned $4,800, you’ve earned your four credits for the year. How many work credits you need to qualify depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
  • To be considered “disabled” you must show you are unable to perform “substantial gainful employment.” If someone qualifies for SSDI two years after the “disability onset date,” they will also be eligible for Social Security Disability Medicare, which provides free medical care.

If you have suffered a serious work-related injury and want to learn more about your rights and legal options, contact our office.