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Understanding Permanent Partial Disability Benefits

 |   |  Disability Benefits

If you are injured on the job, you may be entitled to a broad spectrum of benefits which may include:

  • Medical Treatment
  • Temporary Total Disability/Temporary Partial Disability (TTD/TPD)
  • A Permanent Partial Disability Award
  • Permanent Total Disability
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Dependent’s payments in the event of death
  • Reimbursement for other claims-related benefits or expenses, such as mileage reimbursement

These benefits help many of our clients handle the stresses that come from injuries that prevent them from working.

Upon conclusion of a claim, individuals deemed to have suffered a “ratable injury” will be evaluated for a Permanent Partial Disability Award, also known as a “PPD,” which is designed to compensate them for an injury or condition which is permanent. The amount of compensation a worker receives will depend on the severity of your work-related injury or illness.

Nevada Law states that insurers have thirty (30) days to schedule an appointment with a rating doctor after receiving a report from a physician indicating that an employee may have suffered a permanent disability. The treating physician must indicate that the employee has reached a stable point in his/her recovery and that no further medical care will improve outcome. At that point, it becomes an impairment that is considered ratable under the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Guides.

How Are Permanent Partial Disability Benefits Calculated?

Rating doctors in Nevada are required to use the Fifth Edition of the AMA Guide to Evaluation of Permanent Impairment when determining the percentage of an injured employee’s permanent partial disability. Using these guidelines, they apply a degree rating to classify the impairment. The employee will then receive compensation based on their age, wage, and percentage of impairment per body part.

Unfortunately, many doctors aren’t familiar with the AMA Guide and may not provide injured workers with an accurate rating. This mistake could negatively affect your award.

For this reason, it’s important for patients to ask questions and ensure a proper assessment has been done. In order to help you understand your own PPD evaluation, here are a few common terms used by rating doctors:

  • Apportionment. Rating doctors take into account pre-existing injuries, which may result in a subtraction from your percentage. For a doctor to subtract from your rating, your medical records must prove that at least 50 percent of the final impairment is related to a prior condition or injury.
  • Contralateral Joint. This method involves measurement of the uninjured opposite body part to determine what your normal range of motion would be without the injury. However, this can often be an unfair and inaccurate reading. Imagine if you injured your right shoulder at work, but have had long-term arthritis in your left shoulder. A rating doctor may only indicate that your right shoulder should be as good as your left, even though it was much better before the injury.
  • Whole Person Impairment. A rating doctor comes up with this final percentage by combining the injury evaluations and combining those separate percentages into one. The AMA Guide explains how doctors should combine these numbers.

How Does Permanent Partial Disability Affect Social Security Eligibility?

Please remember that receiving compensation for your permanent partial disability in no way disqualifies you from also collecting Social Security benefits. Social Security Disability (SSD) payments exist to help those who can no longer work because of an injury or illness caused by their job. It is quite possible that your work-related disability will prevent you from being able to work and result in lost wages. Whether permanent or temporary, SSD can help relieve financial stress for you and your family while you are unable to work.

With this in mind, remember that Shook & Stone is one of the few full-service injury and disability law firms in Nevada that handles both work injuries as well as Social Security Disability Claims. If your work-related injury or disability is preventing you from working, contact us for a free disability evaluation. If we believe your claim is strong enough, we can file a claim on your behalf immediately.

How Will I Get My Permanent Partial Disability Settlement?

Your PPD settlement may come in the form of a lump sum or monthly installments. Before deciding to accept your settlement amount and type, it’s important to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. In some cases, taking a lump sum indicates that you agree to a final settlement and you may be giving up your right to dispute your disability rating or any other aspects of your claim. You may also be missing out on payment of thousands of dollars in other benefits.

What to Do If You Think You’re Entitled to Permanent Partial Disability Benefits

A PPD can change your life for the better, forever. Understanding how PPD benefits are calculated will help ensure that you receive the most accurate disability rating possible, guaranteeing that you receive all of the compensation to which you are legally entitled.

For help in building the strongest case possible, contact the Las Vegas personal injury lawyers at Shook & Stone for a free consultation.