What Does Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) Mean in Regard to Workers’ Compensation?

Published on Mar 5, 2024 at 7:23 pm in Workers Compensation.

What does maximum medical improvement (MMI) mean in regard to workers' compensation?

In the realm of workers’ compensation, maximum medical improvement (MMI) is a crucial concept that impacts the course of benefits and health care treatment for injured employees

Understanding what this concept entails is essential for both employees and employers involved in workers’ compensation claims. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the meaning of MMI, its significance in the workers’ compensation process, and what it means for injured employees.

Understanding Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

This concept is a health-related term used to describe the point at which an injured worker’s medical condition has stabilized to the fullest extent possible, given the nature of their injury or illness.

At this stage, further medical care is unlikely to result in significant improvement in the worker’s condition.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the employee as fully recovered or is no longer experiencing symptoms; rather, it indicates that their condition has reached a plateau.

Assessing the Employee’s Health Status

Determining when an injured worker has reached MMI involves a comprehensive evaluation by health care professionals, typically including treating physicians, specialists, and independent medical examiners.

These healthcare providers assess the employee’s injuries, health history, diagnostic test results, treatment progress, and overall functional capacity to determine whether further medical intervention is necessary or beneficial.

MMI and Its Significance in Workers’ Compensation

This concept plays a pivotal role in the workers’ compensation process, as it marks a critical juncture in the management of the injured employee’s claim.

Once the employee reaches MMI, several important implications come into play, affecting both health care treatment and benefits under workers’ compensation, including:

Implications for Medical Treatment

When an injured worker reaches MMI, their medical treatment may also change.

Ongoing health care may still be necessary to manage symptoms, prevent complications, or maintain functional abilities. However, the focus may shift from curative treatments aimed at improving the worker’s condition to palliative care aimed at managing symptoms and optimizing function.

Assessment of Permanent Impairment

At the time of reaching MMI, the employee may undergo an assessment of any permanent impairment resulting from their work-related injury or illness.

This evaluation, typically performed by a qualified physician or specialist, determines the extent of the worker’s permanent impairment and its impact on their ability to perform work-related tasks.

Evaluation of Work Restrictions and Functional Limitations

Upon reaching MMI, the injured worker’s treating physician may provide recommendations regarding any work restrictions or functional limitations resulting from their injury or illness. These restrictions are based on the employee’s medical condition, physical capabilities, and the demands of their job.

Work restrictions may include limitations on lifting, bending, standing, or other physical activities.

Transition to Disability Benefits

Once an injured worker reaches MMI, their eligibility for temporary disability benefits may be reassessed.

If the employee is deemed to have reached maximum medical improvement and is unable to return to their pre-injury job or earn their pre-injury wages due to permanent impairments or work restrictions, they may be eligible for permanent disability benefits under workers’ compensation.

Determining Return-to-Work Status

Maximum medical improvement also has implications for the injured worker’s return-to-work status.

If the employee’s health condition has stabilized, and they have reached MMI, their treating physician may evaluate their ability to return to work in some capacity.

Depending on their functional abilities, work restrictions, and available job opportunities, the worker may be cleared to return to work with accommodations or retraining.

Maximum medical improvement is a critical milestone in the workers’ compensation process, indicating that the employee’s health condition has stabilized to the fullest extent possible.

Understanding the implications of MMI is essential for injured employees, employers, and insurance carriers involved in workers’ compensation claims.

By recognizing when an injured employee reaches MMI and its impact on medical care and benefits, stakeholders can navigate the workers’ compensation process more effectively and ensure that they receive the appropriate care and support they need.

If you have questions about your workers’ compensation benefits in Maryland or suspect that your benefits have stopped prematurely, reach out to us at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC today for a free consultation.




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