Permanent partial disability benefits are paid at the end of the healing period, if the employee has a permanent injury according to their doctor. The insurance company may have an independent medical examiner (IME) say no permanent injury and then the benefits must be fought for. Permanent disability, or PPD benefits, are intended to compensate an employee for future loss of earnings. They start after temporary disability benefits (whether for TTD, TPD, or vocational rehabilitation) stop. The PPD benefit is based on the employee’s wage on the date of injury. The permanent total disability (PTD) benefit rate equals the TTD rate. The permanent partial disability (PPD) benefit rate equals two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage, but because the maximum wage limitation for PPD benefits is comparatively low, most employees are entitled to the maximum PPD benefit.

In most cases, the treating doctor assigns a PPD rating the healing period ends and the workers compensation insurer pays it over a period of months. In some cases, the insurer upon receipt of the treating physician PPD report, obtains another medical opinion following an IME conducted under terms of Wis. Stats. Sec. 102.13(1)(a).

With unscheduled injuries only, if there are permanent restrictions as well as a PPD rating, or even without a permanent partial disability rating, the permanent restrictions can form the basis of a loss of earning capacity claim or a vocational retraining claim. To qualify for loss of earning capacity or vocational retraining benefits the injured employee must not be able to return to work at 80 to 90% of their date of injury average weekly wage. This would apply to either their date of injury employer or the labor market in general. We advise our clients to check out the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation once they have reached their end of healing, or even before if it looks likely that they will be unable to return to work. Permanent restrictions are often set by a surgeon after fusion surgery and after a therapist completes a functional capacity evaluation. Again, scheduled injuries do not qualify for loss of earning capacity benefits but they do give rise to vocational retraining benefits.

If a case settles, the injured employee is only entitled to PPD benefits that have accrued, meaning already due and payable. Future PPD or loss of earning capacity benefits are payable over time and usually must go into a restricted bank account with withdrawals allowed monthly to mirror what PPD would have been paid out over time. Requests for advancements are possible.

McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin helps injured workers obtain workers comp permanent disability benefits, loss of earning capacity and vocational retraining benefits.