What is Permanent Partial Disability?


Laura Schaefer

Have you not fully recovered from a work-related injury or illness but can return to work at a reduced or altered capacity? You may qualify for permanent partial disability benefits through workers’ comp.

You do NOT have to be totally disabled or completely unable to work to receive permanent disability (PPD) benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), compensation varies greatly on where you live and how you were impaired. In a few states, like Connecticut, permanent partial disability is not linked to the worker’s pre-injury earnings.

Permanent partial disability benefits in the state programs are determined using individual justice or average justice.

  1. Under individual justice, compensation is dependent on the status of the victim. The injury is handled on a case-by-case basis, on how much the injury affects the individual.
  2. An average justice approach compensates injuries through a state-specific standard for each body part injured.

Instead of handling each injury differently like the individual justice approach, average justice handles permanent partial disability through a standard. A lawyer who specializes in workers’ comp cases can tell you which method your state follows.

Free Workers' Compensation Evaluation

Have medical bills from a work injury? Click here to speak with a nearby attorney for FREE about your claim.

What Injuries Qualify as Permanent Partial Disability?

When you’ve reached something called “maximum medical improvement,” or MMI, after treatment for your workplace injury, your doctor will conduct an overall physical. They then determine whether your work-related injury or illness caused any lasting medical conditions, like a spinal cord injury.

Some examples of injuries that might qualify as a permanent impairment:

  • Some loss of eyesight
  • A severed finger
  • Permanent hearing loss
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic lower back pain
  • Loss of an arm
  • Loss of a toe

The doctor’s opinion determines if you will be able to get any permanent disability benefits. The next step determines how much your impairments limit your ability to perform certain tasks at work. States apply different rules for calculating and paying benefits for PPD.

IMPORTANT: Because the laws and payment schedules are state specific, it helps to contact a workers’ comp lawyer.

How to Calculate Permanent Partial Disability

PPD ratings are assigned as a percentage of disability to the body as a whole:

  1. The total percentage rating is multiplied by a specific dollar amount or number of weeks to determine payable benefits.
  2. Ratings cannot exceed 100% of the whole body for any one injury.
  3. Permanent partial disability benefits can be paid at the same time as temporary partial disability (TPD) and permanent total disability (PTD) benefits, but not with temporary total disability (TTD) benefits.

PPD Schedule

Each state has a schedule with payment amounts and/or time limits for PPD. The PPD schedule in your state is something your workers’ comp attorney can review with you.

When are Permanent Workers’ Comp Benefits Paid?

After your PPD is rated by your doctor, your employer’s insurance company will send you a letter. This letter will offer to start your weekly or biweekly permanent disability payments or make a settlement offer for a lump-sum payment.

Can Your Permanent Partial Disability Benefits Be Rejected? 

Yes. If the insurance company is challenging your doctor’s opinion or official rating about your permanent disability, you have options to appeal. Get a lawyer to help you through the complicated process and protect your benefits.

What Happens if You Have a Pre-Existing Condition?

Workers’ compensation insurance usually covers work-related injuries with a pre-existing condition. However, some states will “apportion” your permanent disability rating between the old and new injuries. This means that your benefits may be lower than they would be if your disability were caused only by the workplace injury.

How Long Will Permanent Partial Disability Benefits Last?

States generally limit how long PPD benefits last by using complicated formulas depending on the type and degree of your disability. In some states, a certain PPD rating will result in a single lump-sum payment. In other states, you can agree to receive a lump-sum payment for any level of PPD as part of a settlement.

Protect Your Workers’ Comp Benefits with an Attorney

If you’ve read this entire article and still feel confused, you are not alone. Workers’ comp laws are complicated.

Analyzing a workers’ comp case requires the eyes of a professional who knows your state’s laws. Luckily at LegalASAP, we have an attorney network of 500+ law firms throughout the United States, ready to answer your legal questions.

Our professionals mostly work under contingency, meaning their services are paid-for through your settlement and you pay nothing up-front.

Ready to see if you may qualify?Complete your free online workers’ compensation case evaluation now!

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.