Workers' compensation - total disability and partial disability

Workplace accidents probably happen every day in Pennsylvania. Most of the injuries that workers suffer in these accidents are usually minor, and may necessitate a brief visit to a physician for treatment, but after that the employee can return to work. Other workplace injuries, however, can be quite serious, leaving a Pennsylvania employee unable to return to work for quite some time. Workers' compensation benefits would obviously come into play in this type of situation, but what if the injury is so serious that the worker suffers some form of disability?

Under Pennsylvania workers' compensation law, there are two different possible categories when it comes to disability: total disability and partial disability. The difference between these two categorizations is significant, and can have a huge impact on the benefits that an injured worker receives.

A worker who is at first categorized under total disability can be under that status for 104 weeks - totally disabled and unable to work. After the 104-week period of time runs, the employer can ask for a medical examination of the injured worker. If the worker does not meet a threshold of at least 50 percent impairment, the worker will then be re-categorized as partially disabled. A worker can fall within the partial disability section for up to 500 weeks. But, if at any time the worker receives an evaluation from a physician that is back to above the 50 percent disability threshold, the worker can attempt to be reinstated to total disability status.

As our readers can probably tell, there is a great deal of nuance involved in the determination of either total or partial disability. Getting the right information about the timing and details that go into these parts of workers' compensation law can make a big difference in the benefits received.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, "Workers' Compensation & the Injured Worker," Accessed Nov. 7, 2015

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