How long you will receive workers’ compensation checks depends on where you are in your claim. Except in the rarest circumstances however, your workers’ compensation checks will stop. So how can you tell where you are in the process? Look to your check.
Look at the last check you received from your workers’ compensation carrier. This will usually clue you in as to where you are in the workers’ compensation process.
Sometimes, but not always, there will be a notation on the check that indicates the payments are one of the following types: 1) temporary total benefits (sometimes coded as TT or TTD), 2) temporary partial benefits (sometimes coded as TP or TPD), or 3) partial permanency benefits (sometimes coded as PP or PPD). There are a couple other possible codes, but these are the most common. Now, those codes tell us a lot, they mimic the life of a workers’ compensation claim.
Incidentally, the amount of those checks are based upon a complicated formula, but the State of Connecticut put a handy chart together for your review. Be sure to use the chart that covers the year you were injured. First, figure out what was your average weekly wage prior to the injury. Find that amount in the left hand margin of the chart. Then, move your finger across the chart until you find how many dependents you claim on you taxes. That is it.
So what is the life cycle of a workers’ compensation claim? I think the best way to explain it is not from the perspective of money, but of health. Each type of check addressed above, TTD, TPD, and PPD, correspond to what I address below.
Damn, it hurts!
You are hurt on the job. You are in so much pain or so incapacitated that your medical provider keeps you out of work. You are not sure of what will happen in the next week or month, but right now you are out of commission. You should receive TT/TTD benefits because you are temporarily totally disabled. You are unable to work at this moment, so you are getting checks. Those will continue until your medical provider determines that you are recovered enough to do some work.
Feeling a little better.
Maybe you can’t go back to your job yet, but you can do more than lay in bed. You will be paid as someone who is temporarily partially disabled (TP or TPD). If your employer has space to bring you back in the door, you will be paid by your employer. If your employer can’t accommodate your restrictions, you will likely have to do job searches in order to receive payment. The job search forms are available here.
These checks will continue until your medical provider determines that either 1) your recovered enough to do your job, or 2) he/she can’t help you anymore.
I am still hurting, but I can grind it out.
If you continue you recovery, your medical provider again determines if you are capable of returning to your regular job. He or she may return you to work even if you have lingering medical issues. Regardless of whether you are fully recovered, if you are at this stage your employer expects you back on the job. You will no longer receive workers’ compensation checks because you are back working full time.
My medical provider is tired of seeing me/I am about as good as I will get.
Not all of us recovery fully from an injury, but at some point the medical treatment isn’t helping make us better. You have reached what is referred to as maximum medical improvement, sometimes called MMI. Your medical treater is effectively saying “I can’t help you anymore, you are going to have to live with this.”
If you are back at work already, then you have already been receiving a steady pay check from your employer. If you haven’t been back, but your medical treater releases you to return, you likely will start getting paid from your employer assuming you go back to your previous employment.
Sometimes your medical treater still refuses to releases you to your old job, but finds that you are as healthy as you are going to get. If this is the case then in all likelihood you will never go back to that place of employment. The workers’ compensation checks for TT or TP will stop.
So what is left?
Once the medical provider places you at MMI, you may be entitled to partial permanency checks (PPD). This are very time-limited benefit. If your medical treater feels that your injury resulted in lost function of that body part he or she will look to the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Using that textbook, the treater will assign, where appropriate, a rating.
As an example let us use a 10% disability rating for a lumbar spine issue. The Workers’ Compensation Act provides that your lumbar spine is worth a maximum of 374 weeks of benefits. You lost 10% of your lumbar spine, so you are entitled to checks for 37.4 weeks.
The above is just primer, and each case is unique. You may be entitled to other benefits, and if you are a police officer of firefighter hurt on the job some of the calculations are inapplicable, which is why it is not a bad idea to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney. The consultation is free.