In Wisconsin, permanent partial disability benefits are due is at the end of the healing period, the employee has a permanent partial disability assigned by a doctor. Some PPD is due even if the injured worker returns to work making the same money. If the employee cannot return to work due to work-related restrictions, then addition loss of earning capacity and/or retraining benefits may be due as well. PPD benefits are supposed to compensate for future loss of earnings, but they often have little or no relationship to actual future wage loss. PPD benefits accrue after temporary disability benefits (whether for TTD, TPD, or vocational rehabilitation) stop and during intervals when these temporary benefits are not being paid. See Wis. Stat. Sec. 102.44(3) and 102.55(3). The PPD weekly rate is based on the employee’s wage on the date of injury. Permanent total disability benefit rate equals the TTD rate. The permanent partial disability (PPD) benefit rate equals two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage, but not more than the statutory maximum PPD rate on the date of injury.

Permanent partial disability can be increased, see Wis. Stat. Sec. 102.53 provides that with multiple permanent disabilities, the lesser disability or disabilities are increased by certain multiples. Wis. Admin. Code § DWD 80.50(3) (providing that the multiples do not apply to permanent disfigurement). However, PPD can be reduced be receipt of certain pension benefits. Very important to be aware of your pension terms.

Permanent disabilities to anything but the head, torso, neck and back are scheduled in the statutes. See Wis. Stats. Sec. 102.52. There is no loss of earning capacity for scheduled injuries. Nonscheduled injuries, generally to the head, back or torso do allow for loss of earning capacity benefits. This compares the employee’s wage-earning capacity before the disability with the employee’s permanent and total disability for occupational purposes, taking into consideration education, work history, training, and whether the employee can be retrained or vocationally rehabilitated. This loss of earning capacity is calculated as a percentage, and that percentage is applied to 1,000 weeks. Compensation is paid at the PPD rate. See Wis. Stat. Sec. 102.44(3) and 102.11(1). The department has codified the factors to be considered in the assessment. See Wis. Admin. Code Sec. DWD 80.34. It generally takes an expert witness, called a vocational specialist, to render an opinion on loss of earning capacity. This is done after both the treating doctors and the IME doctors have given their permanent restrictions assessment.

McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin concentrates our practice on neck and back injury cases where the insurance company has denied the claim and injury as not work-related.