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Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Awards

  • Published: 2010-11-13 (Rev. 2013-06-16) - Contact: Jason Nelson
  • Synopsis: Employees need to be aware of their rights under workers compensation laws as the laws can vary based on employee occupation and industry.

Main Document

"The examining doctor or health care provider uses a percentage estimating how much the injury affects the employee's ability to work."

Employees need to be aware of their rights under workers compensation laws. The laws can vary based on an employee's occupation and industry.

Permanent Partial Disability awards can occur in occupational injury claims. Under workers' compensation laws, when an employee is an injured on the job that is rated to the severity of being permanent but the employee is still able to work, the employee is entitled to receive compensation for their disability in the form of a permanent partial disability ("PPD") award.

The PPD payment for the workers' compensation claim is for the injured worker's diminished earning capacity over the course of their lifetime. While the employee is still able to work, he or she can no longer work in their prior capacity and have to engage in an occupation that does not pay as well as their job at the time of the incident that caused the injury.

This pay difference can be hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. For example, if a longshoreman were to suffer a back injury on the job and due to their injuries, they were only able to perform non-physical work, the difference in pay can be tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Typically PPD is awarded following an Independent Medical Examination ("IME"), which is usually performed after a course of medical treatment. The IME is used to rate the injured worker's disability.

The examining doctor or health care provider uses a percentage estimating how much the injury affects the employee's ability to work. An employee can be eligible for PPD with a disability rating between one and ninety-nine percent. However, most PPD ratings are between five and thirty percent. The employee's occupation type is a factor in the disability rating.

If the injured worker does not agree with the disability rating, he or she may be entitled to an additional disability rating. Once a disability rating has been established, the injured worker is entitled to receive PPD benefit payments on a regular basis. His or her occupation type is a factor in the ratings. The PPD benefit payments must begin promptly to the employee or the employer can face financial penalties.

The employer's workers' compensation insurer may seek a settlement of the injured worker's claim through a lump sum payment. This is know as a workers' compensation settlement. The settlement would pay for PPD damages. The lump sum payment may be considerable depending on the rating and occupation involved. However, the payment is in exchange for a settlement to close all claims. In the event the injured worker re-aggravates his or her injury or requires future medical treatment, the employ would not be responsible.

In a workers' compensation settlement, the insurance company issues a check in exchange for a signed release of claim document. The release agreement should be carefully reviewed prior to execution. Injured workers can benefit greatly by having a workers compensation attorney manage and negotiate their claim.

Individuals or groups of individual can purchase their own private short-term or long-term disability insurance. Workers may also be covered by employer disability plans, but workers' compensation insurance is the primary form of coverage. However, if the employee's disabling injury occurred on the job, the amount the injured worker would be eligible to receive through a private disability plan is offset by the workers compensation benefits.

However, if an employee wants additional coverage, is not covered by employer disability insurance, or is self-employed it makes sense to consider purchasing private short-term and long-term disability insurance. It can provide protection in the event of a permanent partial disability.


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