Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC – Law Firm in Fairview Heights, IL

Permanent Total Disability and Workers’ Comp in Illinois

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If you have been hurt while on the job in the Prairie State and have not yet made a full recovery from your occupational illness or injury, you may qualify for permanent disability benefits under the workers’ compensation system in Illinois. Through their workers’ compensation insurance carrier, employers are required to pay permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits to any worker who becomes injured on the job and who has suffered a disfigurement or impairment, even if they have the capacity to perform some employment duties. When an employee is unable to work completely, they are considered permanently disabled and employers are required to pay them permanent total disability (PTD) benefits.

Although you may be entitled to receive certain workers’ compensation benefits, they are not always easy to obtain without working with an excellent legal team like ours. Insurance companies want to protect their bottom line and employers do not want their insurance premiums to increase. Our Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers can help you through the process and ensure you receive the maximum benefits you deserve, contact us today.

Permanent Partial Disability Benefits

In the event that you have completely or partially lost the use of a part of your body, such as a leg, hand, ear, or eye, or you have lost partial use of your entire body, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits. Losing partial use of your entire body means you cannot perform the same duties or daily activities the same way you could before sustaining the injury.

Before a decision can be made to determine if you are eligible for benefits, you must have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This means you have recovered to the fullest extent possible and you are not expected to get better or worse. Once a doctor has determined you have reached MMI, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission–more commonly known simply as the Commission can determine if you are eligible for permanent partial disability benefits.

When determining whether an employee qualifies for permanent disability benefits, the Commission will use four different methods. These are: the wage differential formula, a “scheduled” injury, a percentage of loss of the employee as a whole, and disfigurement.

Wage Differential

Sometimes, physical impairments are so serious, workers are forced to change to a different line of work. In many cases, the new employment pays significantly less than the previous job because the employee has new limitations. If this happens, you have the right to a wage differential, which is two-thirds of the difference between your new and old wages.

For example, you may work at a job where you earn $2,000 a week. After suffering a serious injury, you can no longer perform that job and must find new employment that pays only $1,000 a week. If you qualify for the wage differential, you can receive approximately 66 percent of $1,000, the difference in your wages. This would entitle you to receive approximately $660 each week in addition to the wages you are earning at your new job. The wage differential will only pay up to a certain maximum. An Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer at JSK can advise on how much you are eligible to receive.

Scheduled Injury

You may also be able to receive a weekly permanent disability benefit based on 60 percent of your average weekly wage (AWW). The law in Illinois outlines a number of weeks of compensation for approximately 25 different parts of the body. To determine your permanent partial disability benefit, the number of weeks for the impacted part of the body is multiplied by the percentage loss of use of that body part, and then multiplied by the permanent partial disability rate for your situation. The scheduled body parts, and the maximum number of weeks paid for them, are as follows:

  • Hand: 205 weeks for injury by specific trauma
  • Thumb: 76 weeks
  • Finger, index: 43 weeks
  • Finger, middle: 38 weeks
  • Finger, ring: 27 weeks
  • Finger, pinky: 22 weeks
  • Arm: 253 weeks
  • Arm amputated above elbow: 270 weeks
  • Arm amputated at shoulder joint: 323 weeks
  • Foot: 167 weeks
  • Toe, big: 38 weeks
  • Toe, any other: 13 weeks
  • Leg: 215 weeks
  • Leg amputation above the knee: 242 weeks
  • Leg amputation at the hip: 296 weeks
  • Loss of vision in a single eye: 162 weeks
  • Total loss of a single eye (enucleation): 173 weeks
  • Loss of hearing in a single ear caused by occupational disease: 100 weeks
  • Loss of hearing in a single ear caused by workplace trauma or accident: 54 weeks
  • Hearing loss in both ears: 215 weeks
  • Removal of spleen, kidney, or lung: 10 weeks
  • Loss of one testicle: 54 weeks
  • Loss of both testicles: 162 weeks
  • Skull fracture: Minimum of six weeks
  • Facial bone fracture: Minimum of two weeks
  • Vertebral fracture: Minimum of six weeks
  • Spinal transverse process fracture: Minimum of three weeks

Using the above chart however, is not straightforward and you should always talk to a lawyer at JSK to determine what you would be owed. But as a rough estimate, if you had a wage of $600 weekly, and suffered an injury resulting in a total loss of vision in one eye, you could calculate the following: the scheduled number of weeks (162), by 60 percent of your wages ($600), which is $360. The total amount of benefits you would receive would be $58,320. But it is important to note that you are only eligible for 100 percent of the total weeks if you have a total loss to that part of the body.

Loss of Percentage of Person as a Whole

The loss of percentage of a person as a whole is also known as the non-scheduled injury method. Using this method is appropriate when a workplace injury does not appear on the scheduled list of injuries.

When using this method, the Commission will consider your age, occupation, amount of impairment, future earning capacity, and evidence of disability corroborated by the treating medical records. After taking all of these factors into consideration, the Commission will then evaluate the impact the disability has had on your life, as well as your overall disability. Using this information, the Commission will then determine the percentage for the loss of a person as a whole. This percentage is then multiplied by 500 weeks to determine the number of weeks of permanent disability benefits you are eligible for. The resulting number is then multiplied by 60 percent of your average weekly wage. A lawyer at JSK can look at your individual case and give you a better idea of what you would be owed.

Disfigurement

Lastly, if your injury is so serious it has caused disfigurement, your permanent disability award is calculated using a different method. A disfigurement is considered a permanent and serious change to a person’s appearance, including their chest, neck, head, face, arms, hands, and legs below the knees. The disfigurement must be sustained at work, such as a severe cut or burn, or must be the result of a surgical scar necessary to treat the initial injury.

When determining the number of weeks you are entitled to for disfigurement, you and your employer, as well as your Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer, will determine together the number of weeks your disfigurement qualifies for. If an agreement cannot be reached during these meetings, an arbitrator from the Commission will determine the number of weeks. The maximum number of weeks is 162. Serious facial scars are typically assigned the highest number of weeks. The number of weeks is then multiplied by 60 percent of your average weekly wage to determine the award for disfigurement. A lawyer at JSK can give you a better idea of what this may be.

Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Illinois Can Help with Your Permanent Disability

No one should have to go to work only to sustain a serious injury. At the Law Office of Jerome Salmi Kopis, LLC, our Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers can provide the sound legal advice you need, and accurately value your disability, so you receive the full benefits you are entitled to. Call us now at (618) 726-2222 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more.

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