Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | September 20, 2019
An injury on the job can turn your life upside down. The medical bills may be piling up and you could be out of work for an extended period of time. This can lead to a great deal of stress and financial uncertainty for you and your family. Fortunately, in these cases, you may be able to recover a portion of your prior job earnings through the Georgia workers’ compensation system. The program can help provide you with some financial stability during your time of recovery.
Depending on the extent of your on-the-job injury, you may qualify for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) or Temporary Partial Disability (TPD). The main difference between these two classifications depends largely on whether you can continue working at some diminished capacity or not at all.
Bear in mind that the amount you are entitled to receive in disability benefits for workplace injuries is set by state law. These rules also specify the number of weeks you are eligible to receive benefits. This means that these amounts may not reflect the actual amount of income you lost out on for the period you were unable to work.
Temporary Total Disability
In Georgia, Temporary Total Disability applies when you cannot return to work following a job-related injury or illness. Note that there is a waiting period of 7 days in these cases set by state law. This means that you are not considered eligible for benefits until this period has passed. Further, you are not entitled to receive compensation until you are out of work for more than 21 consecutive days. Once this three week period has passed, you will then be paid for the initial 7 day waiting period.
Once you have met these initial requirements, TTD continues until you either return to work or receive the maximum number of weeks under state law, currently set at 400. The payments are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to a maximum of $575 per week.
Temporary Partial Disability
By contrast, Temporary Partial Disability is available in Georgia to paid employees injured on the job that can work, but in a modified or “light duty” capacity. The amount you would receive under this classification is based on the difference between what you would qualify for under TTD and what you can earn in your new position. Note that state law caps the amount an employee can receive in TPD benefits at $383 per week.
TPD will terminate when one of two events happen, either you return to work full time or you reach the maximum number of payments allowed under state law. In Georgia, you can receive TPD benefits for up to 350 weeks.
Permanent Disability Benefits
In serious cases, following medical treatment, a physician may determine that you have a permanent disability. This classification is reserved for severe injuries. Examples would be impairments such as blindness or loss of a limb. If you are deemed permanently disabled, payments will be may for life at the TTD rate, or two-thirds of your average weekly wages up to $575 per week.
If your permanent disability is determined to be partial you may receive one of two types of awards:
Scheduled Award: With a scheduled award, you receive the temporary partial rate for a specified period of time. This award is dependent on the body part that is impaired as indicated by the schedule set by the state. For example, if you lose the use of your hand, you are entitled to 160 weeks of benefits.
Unscheduled Award: This applies to body parts not listed in the schedule. In this case, the amount of the award is based on the disability rating set by your doctor. You can receive up to 300 weeks of payment depending on the rating. These awards are subject to the same maximum as TTD payments.
What to Do If You Are Injured On the Job
It is important that you report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. This will ensure that you are provided the necessary paperwork and that it is forwarded to the state for processing.
Your employer will furnish a list of physicians that you can visit for treatment. You can’t go to any doctor for these injuries unless it is an emergency. Further, following any emergency treatment, you must obtain follow-up care from a physician on the list provided by your employer.
You are required to follow the physician’s recommendations for treatment, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical investigation. Part of following these recommendations means that you return to work as soon as you are able to do so.
If you are denied your claim for benefits following a work-related injury, talk to a workers’ comp attorney about an appeal.