Partial disability is a term used in Georgia workers’ compensation law. It accounts for the fact that you have a permanent disability that affects your ability to work or function. It doesn’t mean that you are permanently and totally disabled, but your injury will likely affect your function on a partial basis for the rest of your life.
Serious work injuries often involve some sort of permanent impairment that a worker will have to deal with for the rest of their lives. This could be something as simple as not being able to lift as much weight as you used to, or it could account for something more serious, like the loss of a finger or hand.
How Is Partial Disability Determined?
When an employer or insurance company determines that you have a partial disability, they got to that conclusion because a doctor or another medical professional told them that. Only a doctor can evaluate permanent impairment in Georgia. Doctors do this by consulting a book called the Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, written by the American Medical Association. This book tells doctors how to rate specific kinds of injuries after doing an evaluation of your injury.
Based on your condition, the doctor will provide a permanent impairment rating that’s expressed as a percentage. This percent of disability is then converted into an amount of weeks. Those weeks are multiplied by your average weekly wage as set out by Georgia workers’ compensation law. Then, your employer will either make those payments to you on a weekly basis or use that number to propose a lump sum settlement to you.
When Does a Doctor Determine Partial Disability?
A doctor can only determine your permanent impairment once you have recovered from your work injury. But, you may never heal completely from this type of injury. That means that doctors have to pick a different point to measure from—they call this “maximum medical improvement” (MMI).
This is the point in your treatment where you are basically “as good as you are going to get under the circumstances.” You must be at MMI to get a permanent impairment rate, which determines your permanent partial disability.
What Are the Types of Partial Disability?
Georgia workers’ compensation law has two overarching partial disability rating systems. The most common is “body as a whole.” This rating applies to injuries to “non-scheduled members.” In contrast, a scheduled member is a specific portion of the body, such as the arms or legs. Your back, for example, is generally a “body as whole” injury.
This difference matters because it will affect the number of weeks that you could be awarded benefits. Body as a whole injury, for example, will pay the percentage impairment multiplied by three. If, for example, you have a 10% impairment rating for a back injury, you are entitled to receive at least 30 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits. Scheduled member claims pay less.
If you have been injured at work and you want to make sure that you’re receiving all of the benefits that you should be getting, give John Foy & Associates a call. Our workers’ compensation attorneys can examine your case to ensure that you get exactly what you are entitled to receive under Georgia Law. Fill out the form to your right, or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.