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Obtaining Permanent Disability under California Workers’ Compensation

If you’ve been left with a lasting disability from injury you received on the job or as a result of your work, you may have a right to receive benefits for that disability after your temporary disability payments end. In fact, even if you’re able to return to work, you may have a right to permanent disability benefits in California. Learn more about your right to permanent disability benefits below, and get the benefits you deserve by contacting a California board-certified workers’ compensation benefits attorney at Invictus Law.

How do I receive a rating of “permanently disabled”?

If you have been in rehabilitation or treatment for a work injury and your condition no longer seems to be changing, your treating physician may determine that your condition is permanent and stationary (P&S), also known as reaching a point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). An injury or illness may be described as permanent and stationary even if the worker’s condition is expected to fluctuate over time, or if they will continue to receive treatment for symptoms of their illness (but not ones that are expected to provide a cure).

The worker’s treating physician should create a P&S report within 20 days of determining that the worker’s condition is permanent and stationary. This report will describe any disabilities that appear permanent, what sorts of limitations those impairments place on the worker, and what sort of treatment the worker will need for these impairments in the future.

The report will also include a “whole person impairment” (WPI) rating of each permanent disability. This is a standardized evaluation based on guidelines created by the American Medical Association. The physician will use these guidelines to create a rating that expresses the extent to which the worker’s life and ability to perform activities of daily living are impacted by their impairment. The report will also note whether the impairment was affected by factors other than the workplace injury or illness, and if so, will assign a percentage of the impairment that can be attributed to sources outside the workplace injury.

Total versus partial disability benefits

This report and WPI rating will then be used to calculate the worker’s permanent disability rating, which indicates the worker’s lost earning capacity. The result is a percentage rating based on the worker’s age at the time of the injury, their occupation, and the type of disability or impairment they suffered. This rating will fall between 0% (the worker is not disabled in a way that affects their earning capacity) and 100% (the worker is permanently totally disabled).

Permanent total disability ratings are uncommon, but they do occur in certain cases. A permanent total disability rating will be granted automatically if the worker has been totally paralyzed, blinded in both eyes, lost the use of their hands, or suffered a mentally-incapacitating brain injury. In most cases, a disability rating will be partial. This percentage will then determine the number of weeks that an injured worker receives disability benefits.

Challenging your disability rating

In some cases, a worker may believe that their disability rating was incorrect. In these cases, they can request the evaluation of a qualified medical examiner (QME) to provide a second opinion of their condition. The worker may also be able to advocate for a larger disability benefit payment from their workers’ compensation judge. That said, contesting a disability rating can be challenging and often calls for the guidance of a seasoned workers’ compensation attorney. Don’t run the risk of getting less than you deserve after a serious workplace injury by trying to represent yourself in a California workers’ compensation claim. Get help from a seasoned and aggressive attorney by contacting the Orange and Ontario workers’ compensation lawyers at Invictus Law. Our knowledgeable Orange County and Inland Empire workplace injury lawyer has fought on behalf of injured workers for years. With a board-certified specialist in California workers’ compensation law working on your case, you can trust that your claim is in capable hands. Contact the offices of Invictus Law today for a no-cost evaluation of your case.

If you need reliable, professional, and effective legal help with your California workers’ compensation claim, contact Invictus Law for a consultation at 949-287-5711 or 888-9WORKLAW, with offices in Orange and Ontario.

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