Temporary total disability, or partial, refers to wage loss during the healing period for which temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits are payable. Wis. Stats. Sec. 102.43.

The period of healing is “the period prior to the time when the condition becomes stationary.” Knobbe v. Industrial Comm’n, 208 Wis. 185, 189 , 242 N.W. 501 (1932) . The Knobbe court explained that during that period, “the employee is submitting to treatment, is convalescing, still suffering from his injury, and unable to work because of the accident. The interval may continue until the employee is restored so far as the permanent character of his injuries will permit.” Id. at 190. In Larsen Co. v. Industrial Commission, 9 Wis. 2d 386, 392 , 101 N.W.2d 129 (1960), the court explained “[a]n employee’s disability is no longer temporary when the point is reached that there has occurred all of the improvement that is likely to occur as a result of treatment and convalescence.”

At the end of the healing period, if a doctor opines there is a permanent injury, PPD benefits are due. PPD benefits may be due in the absence of a medical opinion for certain amputations and sensory losses. See Wis. Admin. Code DWD Sec. 80.32. Permanent disability benefits are intended to offer some compensation for future loss of earning potential. PPD benefit rates are based on the date of injury.

Permanent injuries can be scheduled or non-scheduled. In assessing permanent disability, doctors in Wisconsin are not to use the AMA Guidelines as a basis for determining PPD percentages. The discretion is left to the doctor and Wis. Admin. Code DWD Sec. 80.32 has guidelines as well as a handy brochure “How to Evaluate Disability under Wisconsin’s Worker’s Compensation Law.” WKC-7761P.

In the new agreed bill passed in 2016, Wis. Stat. Sec. 102.175(3) was created allowing a doctor to apportion traumatic PPD percentage to account for other factors, outside of employment, that may have contributed to the permanent disability. These other factors can occur either before or after the claim work injury.

Example: 40-year-old machinist has Q12 back injury. He received some treatment for his low back as a result of an auto accident 10 years ago. As a result of the work injury, he now requires a 1 level low back fusion resulting in 10% PPD. The doctor attributes 8% of this PPD to the work injury and 2% to the auto accident.

McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin represents workers with spine, neck and low back injuries seeking temporary total disability benefits.