What is Permanent Total Disability Benefits in Workers’ Comp?

No one should ever have to worry about sustaining a severe injury when they are on the job. However, work injuries are not uncommon in Illinois. When a worker sustains a significant injury, they should be entitled to receive some form of disability benefits through the Illinois workers’ compensation system. In some cases, this means permanent total disability benefits. At Horwitz Horwitz & Associates, our Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help when you need assistance securing disability benefits after sustaining a work injury.

permanent total disability benefits in workers comp

What is Permanent Partial Disability?

If you have lost the use of, or partial use of, a body part, this will qualify as a permanent partial disability. Often, this includes losing the use of, or partial use of, a hand, leg, or ear. An injury of this nature means that the injury victim can no longer do the same things they could before the injury. If this type of injury happens at work, a person will typically have the right to permanent disability benefits.

Illinois Law on Permanent Disability

Illinois law specifically allows for permanent total disability benefits if:

  • A person is completely unable to work
  • They have suffered the loss of both eyes, hands, arms, legs, feet (or a combination of those)

If those conditions exist, Illinois workers’ compensation laws allow a person to receive lifetime disability benefits. In general, this means that the injured worker will receive two-thirds (66.6%) of their average weekly wage.

How To Qualify for Permanent Disability Benefits

Before a determination can be made as to whether a person should receive permanent disability benefits, they must reach the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI), which means that the doctor does not expect them to make any recovery beyond the point they have reached.

If a person reaches MMI and still has my disability that renders them unable to perform the same things that they were able to before their injury, this will usually qualify them for permanent disability benefits through workers’ compensation.

How Permanent Disability Benefits Are Calculated

There are various ways that permanent disability benefits are calculated, and each depends on the specific factors related to the person’s injury.

Wage Differential

If an injured worker had to switch jobs because of a physical impairment caused by the workplace injury or illness, and the new job pays less than the former job, they will typically be entitled to receive a wage differential of two-thirds (66.6%) of the difference in the wages between the two jobs. For example, if a person worked a factory floor job at $25 per hour, but their injury forced them to take an office job at $15 per hour, the wage differential will be based on two-thirds of the $10 difference between the two wages.

Scheduled Injury

An alternative to wage differential is the collection of permanent disability payments based on 60% of their average weekly wage. The state of Illinois places a limitation on the number of weeks a person can collect these payments, and they limit these payments to injuries that occur to 25 specific body parts. Each body part is assigned a certain number of weeks for which a person can receive benefits. In order to calculate the benefits, the number of weeks associated with the body part will be multiplied by 60% of the average weekly wage.

Loss of Percentage of Person as a Whole

This is often referred to as the non-scheduled injury method to be used when injury or illness is not listed as a scheduled injury, but the injury victim has still sustained permanent limitations on the use of their body. For these cases, the workers’ compensation system will have to weigh the physical impairment and the effect of the disability on the person’s life, and then come up with a percentage for their loss of “a person as a whole.” They will then multiply this percentage by 500 weeks to come up with the number of weeks of permanent disability payments they will be entitled to. For example, if it is determined that the injury has caused a 25% loss of the person as a whole, then this percentage will be multiplied by 500 to arrive at 125 weeks. Once the number of weeks has been calculated, this figure will be multiplied by 60% of the person’s average weekly wage.

Degree of Disfigurement

If a person has suffered from disfigurement as a result of their work injury, there will be a different way of determining their permanent disability award amount. For the purposes of workers’ compensation, disfigurement will be defined as a serious, permanent change to their appearance, usually to the head, face, neck, chest, hands, arms, or lower legs. In these cases, the number of weeks that the disfigurement is valued at needs to be determined, up to 162 weeks. This figure can be difficult to arrive at, and this calculation may need assistance from an arbitrator. Typically, severe facial scars will result in the most number of weeks assigned. After the number of weeks has been determined, this figure will be multiplied by 60% of the average weekly wage to determine the disfigurement award amount.

How To Ensure You Are Receiving Maximum Compensation

If you or somebody you love has sustained a severe work injury, you need to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. At Horwitz Horwitz & Associates, we are dedicated to helping injured workers file a workers’ compensation claim and secure the benefits they deserve. Our qualified and experienced team will conduct a complete investigation into your case in order to ensure you receive maximum compensation. We will work with trusted medical professionals to fully evaluate your condition and provide expert witness testimony if necessary.

The workers’ compensation system in Illinois is often difficult for injured individuals to navigate, particularly if a permanent disability benefits claim is denied. Our attorneys are fully prepared to handle any appeals that need to be made to the Workers’ Compensation Commission in Illinois.