GA WORKERS COMPENSATION ~ Disability Benefits
DISABILITY BENEFIT QUESTIONS
Q. What will happen if I am unable to work because of my on-the-job injury?
You are entitled to receive weekly Temporary Total Disability benefits if you miss more than seven days from work. Only if you are out more than 21 consecutive days due to your injury will you be paid for the first seven days. Your first check should be mailed to you within 21 days after the first day of disability. You will receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but not more than the maximum rate provided by the Workers’ Compensation act at the time of your injury. (2008 = $500 per week maximum) Your authorized treating physician must verify your disability and absence from work.
Q. What if I cannot perform my regular job and another job is not available?
You would be eligible to receive Temporary Total Disability benefits if you are unable to work due to your on-the-job injury. You should also consult with your attorney regarding possible vocational rehabilitation opportunities.
Q. What happens if my disability becomes permanent?
If your authorized treating physician determines you have suffered a permanent disability, you would be entitled to receive Temporary Total Disability benefits for as long as you remain disabled. (Maximum of 400 weeks unless your injury is Catastrophic). If you are able to work, you may begin receiving a weekly income benefit based on the permanent disability rating given you by your authorized treating physician.(See next question – PERMANENT PARTIAL DISABILITY). The benefit would be paid to you regardless of your wage rate or total income.
Q. What income benefits are available under the Workers’ Compensation Program?
The Workers’ Compensation Statue provides four basic income benefits. The maximum amount of weekly workers’ compensation benefits an employee can receive from an on-the-job injury, illness or death depends on the workers’ compensation rate at the time of the injury and the employee’s average weekly wage.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits – This benefit is payable to an employee who is injured on the job and unable to work as determined by the authorized treating physician. The amount is two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage at the time of the injury, not to exceed the maximum amount allowed under the law.
For non-catastrophic injuries, there is a limit of 400 weeks of benefits from date of injury if the injury occurred on or after July 1, 1992.
For catastrophic injuries, benefits are unlimited.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits – This benefit is payable to an employee when he/she returns to work in a job paying less as a result of an on-the-job accident. These benefits are payable for up to 350 weeks from the date of injury. This lost wage amount is two-thirds of the difference between the employee’s average weekly wage before and after the injury. The maximum amount payable cannot exceed the maximum allowed under the law.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits – This benefit is payable to the employee for a permanent disability resulting from an on-the-job injury. It is payable based upon a percentage given by your authorized treating physician in accordance with current AMA Guidelines. The percentage is calculated by a formula that contains number of weeks assigned by the State Board X (times) the percentage rating X (times) the Temporary Total Disability rate.
Not all injuries result in ratings assigned by a physician. Death Benefits – This benefit is payable to eligible dependents (i.e., dependent spouse, minor children) of an employee whose on-the-job injuries result in death. This benefit is payable at the rate of two-thirds of the deceased employee’s average weekly wage at the time of the accident not to exceed the maximum allowed under the law for all eligible dependents. Funeral Expenses are payable up to the maximum allowed under the law at the time of injury.
Benefits cannot be combined. Only one type of benefit is payable at a time.
Q. What happens to my workers’ compensation benefits if I receive a light-duty release from my physician while I am out of work?
Your employer will try to place you in a job that meets the limitations placed on you by your physician. However if a light-duty job is not available and you remain out of work in a light-duty status for 52 consecutive weeks or, if periods of disability are interrupted, a maximum of 78 total calendar weeks, your income benefits will be reduced automatically by law from the Temporary Total Disability benefit to the maximum eligible Temporary Partial Disability benefit.
If you are given a light-duty release and a light-duty job is available, your employer will expect you to return to work. The Workers’ Compensation Statue provides for a 15-working-day “grace period.” This allows an employee to attempt to perform a light-duty job without fear of losing benefits if they are unable to perform the job duties.
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