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Am I Eligible for Permanent Partial Disability Benefits?

Am I Eligible for Permanent Partial Disability Benefits?

Another important category of benefits available to the injured worker in the Workers' Compensation case is Permanent Partial Disability benefits (frequently abbreviated as "PPD benefits.") Unlike TTD and TPD benefits, which are intended to indemnify the Employee/Claimant for income loss due to the injury, PPD benefits have a different intent. Essentially, PPD benefits compensate the injured worker in some measure for a loss of use of a particular body part, multiple body parts, or the body as a whole, where such loss of use is a result of a work injury. The amount payable for PPD benefits depends upon the percentage loss of use of the body part, the body part injured, and the Employee/Claimant's comp rate (the amount she receives weekly for TTD benefits when such are payable). PPD benefits are created by O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-263.

PPD benefits generally are payable "without regard to whether the employee has suffered economic loss as a result of the injury;" ergo, PPD benefits are payable where the Employee/Claimant has not been entitled to any TTD or TPD benefits. O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-263(b)(1). However, where the Employee/Claimant has been entitled to payment of TTD or TPD benefits, PPD benefits do not become payable until the Employee/Claimant is no longer entitled to payment of such TTD or TPD benefits. O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-263(b)(2).

Once the Employee/Claimant is eligible to receive PPD benefits, such benefits are calculated pursuant to a formula laid out by the statute. The statute contains a schedule of numbers of weeks of benefits payable for injuries to 13 particular body parts, and to the body as a whole. The number of weeks of PPD benefits payable to the individual injured worker is calculated by multiplying the percentage loss of use of the body part times the number of weeks assigned to that body part by the statute. For this resulting number of weeks, the Employee/Claimant is entitled to receive his regular weekly TTD comp rate, payable at this point for PPD benefits.

With regard to how the percentage of impairment to the individual body part is calculated, O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-263(d) provides that "[i]n all cases arising under this chapter, any percentage of disability or bodily loss ratings shall be based upon Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, fifth edition, published by the American Medical Association." Per Board Rule 263, when the Employee/Claimant is no longer receiving TTD or TPD benefits and no rating has previously been requested or issued, the Employer/Insurer shall, within thirty days, request an impairment rating from the Authorized Treating Physician; the Employer/Insurer must then commence payment of PPD benefits within 21 days after knowledge of the rating. Also per Board Rule 263, "The employer/insurer are presumed to have knowledge of the rating not later than 10 days after the date of the report establishing the rating."

As a practical matter, when settling a Workers' Compensation case, the PPD rating is often paid in a lump sum as part of the settlement, as settlements are frequently reached before or around the time that the Employee/Claimant becomes eligible for PPD benefits. Accordingly, when starting settlement negotiations, if the PPD rating has not yet been assigned, the Workers' Compensation practitioner must have a good idea of what the rating is likely to be. For this purpose, it can be worthwhile to have or have access to a copy of "Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Fifth Edition," published by the American Medical Association.

If you would like to learn what workers' compensation benefits you are eligible for, please do not hesitate to contact an Atlanta workers' compensation lawyer from our firm. We have over two decades of experience and we are committed to protecting the rights of injured workers throughout Georgia. Schedule your free consultation today by call us at (888) 665-7699.


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