California workers’ compensation system is primarily meant to pay for workers’ medical care and tide them over with some income until they are able to return to work. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic for some injured workers. Some injuries are so serious that the worker will never be able to return to their old job, or even one remotely like it.
For these workers, the system may provide permanent disability benefits. However, these benefits have some significant limitations.
Temporary Disability benefits
When a worker has been injured on the job, and the injuries are serious enough that they cannot return to work, they are typically considered to be temporarily disabled. For these workers, workers’ compensation can pay not only for their medical care, but can also provide them with some income while they are recovering.
These benefits are known as Temporary Disability benefits, and they come in two types. Temporary Partial Disability benefits are meant for workers whose injuries mean they can no longer do the kind of work they did before, but can perform some other role at their place of employment. Temporary Total Disability benefits are meant for workers who cannot work at all due to their injuries.
Temporary Total Disability benefits typically max out at two-thirds of the worker’s earnings before the injury. Temporary Partial Disability benefit amounts are calculated according to the extent of the disability.
In any case, Temporary Disability benefits can’t last longer than 104 weeks.
Permanent Disability benefits
If a worker’s disability lasts longer than 104 weeks, they may be eligible for Permanent Disability benefits. First, they must be declared permanently disabled by a doctor.
The doctor quantifies the extent of disability as a percentage. The workers’ compensation board calculates the amount of benefits according to a formula that is based on the percentage of disability and other factors.
Permanent Disability benefits by themselves may not be enough to meet the financial needs of seriously injured workers. These workers may need to look into other sources of income, such as Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
Attorneys with experience in workers’ compensation can help the injured and their families to assess all their options.