Permanent disability benefits
Permanent disability (PD) is any lasting disability from your work injury or illness that affects your ability to earn a living. If your injury or illness results in PD you are entitled to PD benefits, even if you are able to go back to work.
What can I expect?
Most workers fully recover from job injuries but some continue to have medical problems. PD benefits are limited. If you lose income, PD benefits may not cover all the income lost. If you experience losses unrelated to your ability to work, PD benefits will not cover those losses.
PD benefits are set by law. Your PD benefit amounts will be determined as follows:
- The date of your industrial injury
- Your primary treating physician or a doctor who is a qualified medical evaluator (QME) will examine you and determine your impairment level, which means how your injury affected your ability to work
- Your impairment level will be expressed as a percentage
- The percentage is used in a formula which also includes your age and occupation. For injuries on or after April 19, 2004, and prior to Jan. 1, 2013, the formula also includes diminished future earning capacity
- For dates of injury on or after Jan. 1, 2013, PD ratings will no longer take into account an injured employee’s future earnings capacity. In addition, injured employees will no longer be able to collect additional PD for sleep disorders or sexual dysfunction that did not result directly from those injuries. Additional PD for psychiatric injuries is limited to cases in which the physical injury is catastrophic or where the injured employee was the victim of or a witness to a violent crime
- A disability evaluator or the judge will calculate this formula and determine how much PD you are entitled to receive.
What if I disagree with the doctor’s report?
If you disagree with the doctor's evaluation of your disability status, you should contact the claims administrator to object to the report and to obtain a DWC form to request a panel of three QMEs. Within ten days after DWC sends you the panel of three QMEs, you must select one QME from the panel, make an appointment to be examined by the QME and inform the claims administrator which QME you chose and the appointment time. If you have an attorney, your attorney and claims administrator might agree on a doctor to resolve medical disputes. This doctor is called an agreed medical evaluator (AME).
Want to learn more? Find it in the guidebook
Did you know?
- You can contact the Information and Assistance Unit if you have questions or call the DWC Information Services Center at 1-800-736-7401 to speak to a live representative.
- A settlement is mutually agreed on by you and the claims administrator. There are two types of settlements:
- Compromise and release (C&R) – lump sum settlement.
- Stipulation with request for award (stip) – sum of money with future medical treatment.
- You have a right to receive a copy of the doctor's report and can request copies of all medical reports.
- You can find current rates on the benefits chart.
Questions workers have:
- How is permanent disability identified?
- Can I get more detail about the PD rating and how it is calculated?
- How much will I be paid for my permanent disability?
- How and when are permanent disability benefits paid?