As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 3 million employees filed for workers’ compensation in 2019. Many of the injuries reported were in the healthcare, construction, manufacturing, retail, and wholesale industries. Unfortunately, there are some on-the-job injuries that are so severe that they lead to permanent disabilities. In the worst cases, individuals may never be able to return to work.
Dealing with all the legal and insurance issues involved in a permanent disability claim can be overwhelming and exhausting. A Baltimore permanent disability lawyer from Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC can represent those who have been permanently injured in workplace accidents and need competent legal representation for their workers’ compensation claim.
Determining Permanent Disability
To determine if you will be permanently disabled from your work injury, you will need to know your maximal medical improvement (MMI). Your MMI, which will be established by your doctor and based on your recovery, is defined as the point where your condition is no longer expected to improve.
The amount of time it takes to reach your MMI varies greatly. It will depend on the nature of your injury and what your recovery process looks like. Most MMIs are met anywhere from a month to a few years after the initial injury.
Once you stop improving, the process to decide if you have a permanent disability will begin. Most often, your doctor will be able to say whether you have a lasting medical condition or an impairment after you go through a series of determining tests. In Maryland, permanent disability is separated into two categories: partial and total. The possible benefits are established by the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Permanent Partial Disability
Permanent partial disability (PPD) is more common than permanent total disability. With PPD, you may still be able to function at work, but not to the capacity you once were able to. You’ll know if this applies to you if your doctor clears you for work with certain limitations. You may be allowed to go back; however, you may only be able to do sedentary work or have to refrain from reaching or standing for long periods of time.
In Maryland, you are entitled to compensation for a PPD. This compensation is expressed in weeks. Depending on where your injury is located will determine your compensation. Established tables will tell you to what you are entitled to recover. You will likely able to collect 33 to 66 percent of your weekly wages.
The injuries are broken down into tiers. First-tier injuries are considered minor and are entitled to less than 75 weeks of compensation. The second tier allows for 75 to 249 weeks of compensation. The third and final tier is for the most serious of injuries and allows for 250 or more compensable weeks. For example, if you are in a construction accident and require an arm amputation, you will be entitled to 300 weeks of your average weekly wage. There are minimums and maximums in place for each tier.
According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security benefits are not offered for partial disabilities.
Permanent Total Disability
Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits are meant for those who suffer permanent impairments as the result of a workplace injury. In Maryland, this includes the loss of both arms, both eyes, both feet, both hands, both legs, or the combination of any two of the following: an arm, eye, foot, hand, or leg.
The difference between a PPD and a PTD is that with a PTD, you are completely disabled and, as a result of your workplace injury, are unable to work at all. Workers’ compensation benefits for a PTD will equate to two-thirds of your previous average weekly wage, up to $1,094.00.
With a total disability, you may also qualify for Social Security benefits. To qualify you must meet certain earning requirements. These requirements have to do with how old you were at the time you became disabled, and whether you worked long enough under Social Security. For example, if you become disabled at 38, you generally need to have worked for at least four years before qualifying for benefits.
It’s also important to note that permanent disability benefits may not last for your entire life.
Applying for Social Security Benefits
When you’re determining what kind of permanent disability case you have, and you are eligible for permanent total disability and social security benefits, you might want to know the steps to apply for those benefits. As mentioned above, the requirements for whether or not you qualify are based on how old you were when you became disabled and how long you worked under social security.
The Social Security Administration has published a booklet with the requirements to be eligible for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). Based on their table, you can decide whether you’re able to apply for SSDI, and if you are eligible, you should apply as soon as possible because the application can take around five months to process.
When you apply, there are certain documents you’ll need:
- Your Social Security number
- Your birth certificate
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of your doctors
- Dates of your doctors’ visits
- Names and dosages of the medications you take
- Medical records you have
- Lab test results
- What work you did
- A copy of your W-2
In your application, this information will lead to deciding if you are disabled or not. The state agency will determine if you are disabled or not based on these factors:
- Your medical condition or conditions
- When the condition or conditions began
- How these medical conditions limit your activities
- Medical tests and their results
- Treatment you’ve received
The state agency will speak with your doctors to get this information and will also use the documents you provide in your application to determine if you’re eligible for SSDI. This process can be complex, which is why it helps to have a Baltimore permanent disability lawyer on your side. At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC our attorneys understand how stressful this all can be for you, which is why we’re here to help guide you through the process.
Compensation You Can Recover With the Help of an Attorney
Now that we’ve gone over whether you qualify for permanent partial disability, permanent total disability, or Social Security, let’s take a look at what you can financially recover with the help of a permanent disability lawyer. Depending on your situation and what caused your injuries, you could recover compensation for the damages that you suffered.
Here are some of the costs that would factor into the calculation for full and fair financial recovery:
- Medical bills
- Treatment costs
- Medication costs
- Future care costs
- Lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
These are just the basics of what you could recover with the help of Baltimore permanent disability lawyers, and one of our attorneys will be able to determine what costs factor into your claim and answer any other questions you have. If your disability was the result of a work injury, then our workers’ comp lawyer could help you as well.
Contact the Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC Permanent Disability Lawyers
Our permanent disability lawyers serve clients throughout Maryland. We have a successful track record handling permanent disability claims and are ready to advocate for you in the legal process.
We strive to provide each client with the personalized, hands-on representation they deserve. Based on your injuries and final disability diagnosis, we will help you understand what you are entitled to, and the likely outcome of your worker’ comp claim. To schedule your free consultation, please contact us today.