Permanent Disability Versus Temporary Disability

Firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and other first responders are generally at high risk for on-the-job injuries. However, if you sustain an injury at work, Florida workers’ compensation law, entitles you to receive certain indemnity benefits as a replacement of your lost income while you recover. Workers' compensation differs from disability insurance in that the former only applies to work-related injuries.

Temporary Disability

A temporary disability is an injury or illness that temporarily prevents you from participating in routine activities.

Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD)

You are entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits if you sustain an on-the-job injury, and an authorized doctor imposes a no-work restriction while you recover. You will receive a temporary benefit check every two weeks for 66 and 2/3% of your average weekly wage(AWW)

You will receive temporary total benefit payments as long as you are on a no-work status. When you reach overall maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is where additional treatment no longer improves your condition, your entitlement to those benefits continues. Your doctor determines when you reach MMI. If one doctor puts you at MMI, but another doctor doesn’t, you will remain eligible to receive temporary benefit payments.

As of 2016, Florida workers’ compensation law entitles you to receive temporary benefit payments for a maximum of two years (104 weeks). When you reach the 104-week mark, you will no longer receive temporary disability benefit payments, even if you didn’t reach overall MMI.

Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD)

Temporary partial disability benefits may be available if, according to an authorized doctor, you can continue your work while adhering to physical restrictions. These restrictions may either be actual or prophylactic limitations and typically preclude activities such as heavy lifting, repetitive motions of the back, or kneeling.

If your employer can accommodate the restrictions and pay you 80% or more of your AWW, you are not entitled to receive the partial benefit. However, if you can return to work on a modified basis while earning less than 80% of your AWW, you are entitled to receive 80% of the difference between 80% of your AWW and your AWW with restrictions.

For example, if your normal AWW is $600 and your weekly wage with restrictions is $300, TPD is calculated as follows:

($600 x 80% - $300) x 80%

= ($480 - $300) x 80%

= $180 x 80%

TPD = $144 per week

If your employer cannot accommodate the restrictions and you receive no weekly wage, the TPD calculation would be:

($600 x 80% - $0) x 80%

= $480 x 80%

= $384 per week

If you were working two jobs, the law might allow you to combine the earnings from both employees in your AWW calculation. However, it is your responsibility to inform the insurance company of the additional loss in wages. If you have any questions about your AWW calculation, contact our office.

Permanent Disability

A permanent disability is a long-term illness or injury that results in impairment of routine activities from which you are not expected to recover.

Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD)

Permanent total disability benefits come into play if you are unable to return to any type of work after an injury. To be entitled to receive a PTD benefit, you need medical evidence from an approved doctor that shows that your on-the-job injury caused a total and permanent disability, and as a result, you cannot find employment, even if it is at a sedentary level, within a 50-mile radius of your home.

A determination regarding the permanence of your injury is only possible after you reach MMI. After establishing permanent and total disability, you may claim weekly PTD benefits equal to 66 and 2/3% of your AWW.

Permanent Impairment Benefits

When you reach MMI, all temporary benefits end, and you become eligible for impairment benefit. At this point, if your doctor does not foresee further recovery from additional treatment, he or she has to assign a whole-body impairment rating according to established medical guidelines.

You will then receive a permanent partial disability benefit payment equal to 75% of your TTD benefit per week for several weeks. This will be reduced by 50% if you are back to work and earning more than your AWW. The number of weeks you will receive the benefit depends on your doctor’s impairment rating:

  • 1% -10%: two weeks per percentage point
  • 11% - 15%: three weeks per percentage point
  • 16% -20%: four weeks per percentage point
  • 21% - 99%: six weeks per percentage point

Contact the Law Firm of Bichler & Longo

At the law firm of Bichler & Longo we assist injured first responders who are unable to work with disability insurance and workers’ compensation matters. If you need help seeking indemnity benefits, dealing with insurance companies, and filing a disability insurance claim, Contact us today to schedule a free evaluation of your case.