A disability rating is one of the most important parts of the workers’ compensation process. If you become injured or ill on the job, the disability rating you receive determines whether or not you qualify for permanent disability benefits and for how much. Permanent impairments are those that have reached their maximum medical improvement and are unlikely to change despite medical treatments.
The Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyers at Schmidt Kramer explain disability ratings below. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case and review your legal options. We can help you gather the necessary medical documentation that demonstrates the extent of your disability and walk you through every step of the claims process.
What Is a Disability Rating?
A disability rating is a determination of your level of whole-body impairment. A physician performs this examination to determine how disabled you are and how you will be able to perform normal work-related activities. You may undergo testing to measure your ability in the following areas:
- Lifting capacity
- Ability to balance
- Range of motion
- Other activities and abilities
The doctor uses a set of guidelines to calculate your permanent disability rating. Your doctor considers your work-related diagnoses when he or she examines you.
In Pennsylvania, the doctor who conducts this evaluation must meet specific requirements, including:
- He or she must be licensed in Pennsylvania
- He or she must be certified by an American Board of Medical Specialties-approved board
- He or she must be active in clinical practice for at least 20 hours a week
If more than one body part or function is impaired, you may be referred to multiple doctors to have your disability rating determined.
When Is a Disability Rating Determined?
After you are injured at work, you will likely seek medical treatment. Your doctor may order that you do not return to work or may impose certain work restrictions. During this time, you may qualify for temporary disability benefits to compensate you for your lost wages.
After 104 weeks of receiving total disability benefits, this rating may be requested to determine your eligibility for permanent disability benefits. This timeline may be adjusted if you and the other parties reach an agreement.
How Is a Disability Rating Determined?
The physician who examines you uses a particular set of guidelines to establish your permanent disability rating. Each state establishes its own procedures and which guidelines should follow.
Pennsylvania has adopted the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. The physician performing the evaluation must complete Form LIBC 767 - Impairment Rating Determination Face Sheet to calculate a disability rating, which is usually stated as a percentage.
You may have a disability rating assigned to certain body parts, such as 20 percent disability to your right foot or 10 percent to your left hand. Alternatively, your rating may be stated as a whole person impairment.
Why Your Disability Rating Is Important
Your disability rating directly impacts the overall amount of compensation you will receive for your claim. If your disability rating is calculated at less than 50 percent, your claim is considered a partial disability. Your amount of compensation will not change, but you will be subject to a maximum of 500 weeks of workers’ compensation benefits. Because this rating can arbitrarily cause your benefits to end prematurely, it is important that your rating is accurate.
Get Legal Help from a Qualified Lawyer
If you were assigned a disability rating you do not agree with, you may be able to appeal the decision. It is in your best interest to pursue this type of action with the help of a qualified lawyer.
Our firm is familiar with all relevant aspects of Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws and can assist you with this process. We charge no upfront fees and offer a free consultation to discuss your case. We only get paid for our time if you receive the benefits you need.