Workers’ Compensation Benefits When You are Permanently Disabled
Most injured workers’ eventually recover from their injuries and return to work, either at their current vocation or at a new job for which they have retrained. But what happens to injured workers who are unable to return to work in any capacity? Some injured workers sustain injuries that are so severe that they can never go back to work. This situation is common with workers who are older and approaching retirement age or with those who have sustained catastrophic injuries. With some injuries, you may be automatically presumed to be permanently totally disabled. These injuries include:
- Spinal cord injury involving severe paralysis of an arm or leg or the trunk
- Amputation of an arm, a hand, a foot, or a leg involving the effective loss of use of that appendage
- Severe brain or closed-head injury as evidenced by:
- severe sensory or motor disturbance
- severe communication disturbance
- severe complex integrated disturbance of cerebral function
- severe episodic neurological disorder or
- other severe brain and closed-head injury condition at least as severe in nature as any condition provided above
- Second or third-degree burns of 25% or more of the total body surface or third-degree burns of 5% or more to the face and hands
- Total or industrial blindness
Florida Workers’ Compensation Law Provides for Permanent Total Disability
Under Florida workers’ compensation law, injured workers can qualify for Permanent Total Disability Benefits if they can show that they are unable to find a job within a 50 mile radius of their home as a result of injuries suffered in their work-related accident. This is a very tough standard to meet, particularly for individuals in large cities, where there are more jobs available. Permanent Total Disability claims have two basic elements: the claimant’s physical restrictions and their vocational background.
Physical restrictions are your ability to engage in certain types of physical activity. Typically your physician will assign permanent physical restrictions at some point in your case. These restrictions will state how much you can lift, carry, sit, stand, and walk, etc. in a typical work day. In many instances your physician will order a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) to help assess your physical restrictions. Vocational background considers your age, education, past relevant work history, and the transferability of any skills that you may have. Usually, when fighting for permanent total disability, we will retain a vocational expert to analyze your vocational background and compare it with your work restrictions to render an opinion as to whether or not you are capable of returning to work.
If you qualify for Permanent Total Disability, you will receive benefits through the age of 75. If you are injured after the age of 70, your total eligibility lasts for 5 years. The amount of Permanent Total Disability is 66 2/3% of your gross pay at the time you were injured. You also receive a 3% annual cost of living increase. This 3% cost of living increase continues until the age of 62. If you receive Social Security Disability, the amount you receive will also be affected.
The laws pertaining to Permanent Total Disability have changed a great deal over the years. The description of Permanent Total Disability described above only applies if you were injured after 10/1/03. Different requirements apply to cases prior to 10/1/03.
Speak with the Law Office of Christopher J. Annis, LLC Today
If you have been injured on the job or if you have questions about workers’ compensation or permanent total disability benefits, the Law Office of Christopher J. Annis, LLC is happy to help. Mr. Annis can provide valuable information and advice to help win your claim for permanent total disability.
Serving Gainesville, Lake City and Live Oak, you can contact us online or call 352-264-1910 to schedule a free consultation today.