This is a continuation of the previous blog:
With Temporary Total Disability Benefits, there is a ceiling of $500.00 per week that is payable as of 2007 for TTD benefits, such that injured workers who were making more than $750/week prior to being injured will receive less than two-thirds of their income loss while receiving TTD. This ceiling on the amount of TTD benefits payable to the Employee/Claimant has been increasing over time, typically in increments of $25, although the Georgia Legislature does not increase the maximum TTD benefit every year. The ceiling that applies to each particular Employee/Claimant will be whatever the ceiling was as of the date of the Employee/Claimant's injury; if the cap on TTD benefits was $400/week at the time of her injury, that is the maximum she can receive, if her average weekly wage was $600/week or more.
Just as there is a ceiling on the amount that is payable for TTD benefits under O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-261, there is also a ceiling on the number of weeks during which an injured worker can continue receiving TTD benefits. The ceiling is 400 weeks, and this period runs on a calendar basis from the date of injury forward. The exception to the ceiling of 400 weeks under the statute is for workers whose injuries are considered catastrophic under the Workers' Compensation Act, for whom TTD benefits can be payable for life, or until it can be shown that their condition has changed for the better. See O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-261; see, also, O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-200.1 for types of injures that can be considered catastrophic.
Also, it is important to know that the Employee/Claimant's eligibility for TTD benefits, insofar as it turns on the Employee/Claimant's inability to work, is largely determined by the Authorized Treating Physician (hereinafter "ATP"). So long as the ATP has the Employee/Claimant disabled from work due to the injury, the Employee/Claimant is generally entitled to ongoing TTD benefits. Of course, this is a fertile ground for disputes to arise, and this is also the subject of much maneuvering and strategizing for the practitioner and the Employer/Insurer with regard to treating physicians, physicians to perform Independent Medical Examinations, etc. The opinion of the ATP is compelling evidence, but not necessarily always controlling, and the opinion of other doctors and of the Employee/Claimant herself can support an argument or finding that the Employee/Claimant is temporarily totally disabled from work as a result of the work injury.
Also, it should be noted that an Employee/Claimant who has been released to return to work on light duty, but for whom no suitable light duty work can be furnished by the Employer or otherwise, can also be entitled to ongoing TTD benefits until light duty work can be furnished and successfully attempted by the Employee/Claimant. If no work can be found, the Employee/Claimant's benefits can under some circumstances be reduced to some degree, in terms of both amount and period of eligibility, if the Employer/Insurer follows proper procedures outlined by statute, after one year passes from the date of a proper light duty release. See O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-104.
If you are wondering which benefits you are eligible for under the Workers' Compensation Act and you would like to learn more about Temporary Total Disability Benefits, then speak with an Atlanta workers' compensation lawyer from our firm today. Contact Douglas F. Kaleita, P.C. for a free case evaluation by calling (888) 665-7699.