Claiming a Permanent or Partial Disability Under Workers’ Compensation
Some work injuries that occur in South Carolina are so serious they result in a permanent or partial disability under workers’ comp. Under S.C. Code Ann.§ 42-9-30, the loss of one or both arms, shoulders, hands, feet, hips, legs, both eyes, or two on the list is considered a permanent and total disability for purposes of determining benefits.
Permanent Partial Benefits
After the employee reaches maximum medical improvement, the doctor can classify the employee as having a permanent partial disability as long as the employee has a permanent impairment rating. If the claimant has returned to the same job without restriction, he or she is entitled to an award of permanent partial disability in South Carolina. In other words, the injured worker can continue working without penalty as long as there are no restrictions and can still recover their benefits. A schedule which shows the value of body part injuries is contained either in S.C. Code Regs. § 67-1101 or in § 42-9-30.
Who Determines the Disability Amount and Award in Workers’ Comp?
When a commissioner hears the matter, he is the person who determines the disability amount. These are usually more than those provided for a rating of impairment. However, there are no guidelines, so the commissioner can use their own discretion to decide on the award.
Normally, a permanent disability award is 1 ½ to 2 times that of the medical impairment but can vary. Those who have different ratings but the same injuries may be given a different disability amount, which can depend on their age, work experience and education, among others. As an example, a worker with a college education may receive less than that awarded to a pipe fitter who completed high school.
Determining Permanent Disabilities for Workers’ Comp
Workers who have suffered permanent injury to more than one part of the body or more than half their back can claim total and permanent disability. The maximum workers’ comp benefits for this category totals 500 weeks. While the claim is ongoing, the injured worker receives temporary benefits, usually paid as a lump sum. This amount is subtracted from the total for permanent workers’ comp disability benefits. Those who have suffered permanent brain damage or have become paraplegic or quadraplegic as a result of the work accident receive lifetime benefits. Lump sum awards are at this time calculated at 2.25 percent per year.
Lastly, a worker with more than one injury may be compensated for partial wages lost if he is not permanently and totally disabled. Comparing the weekly average wage before and after an injury yields the percentage wage loss. This is calculated by multiplying the difference by .6667. This amount can be received for 340 weeks by the claimant. When a partial wage loss award is made, any temporary benefits paid are not taken into account. In order to obtain both wage loss or a scheduled disability award under workers’ comp, the claimant must choose which one they want.
Morris Law Firm – Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
We are experienced with workers’ compensation issues at Morris Law, and we make sure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Please contact us online, or call (843) 232-0944 if you would like a free case review.