Disability under Wisconsin’s workers compensation benefits law, Wis. Stat. Ch. 102 is understood to be wage loss or limitation as a result of a work-related injury or condition, defined in as “mental or physical harm to an employee caused by accident or disease.” See Wis. Stat. Sec. 102.01(2)(c). Temporary total disability or temporary partial disability is wage loss during the time the injured worker is healing. The healing period is the time during while an injured worker is both convalescing from the injury and submitting to active treatment. The healing period is before the medical condition becomes stationary. The worker in the healing period is paid TTD. It is necessary that a doctor provide the worker with an off work slip stating the worker cannot work due to a work-related injury or has work-related restrictions, that the employer cannot accommodate. If at the end of the healing period, the doctor states the worker has a permanent disability, then PPD or permanent partial disability benefits are due to be paid out monthly to the injured worker.

If at the end of the healing period, the permanent injury causes work-related permanent work restrictions (either physical or mental), that prevent the worker from returning to the employer at approximately the same pay rate, then the injured worker may be entitled to loss of earning capacity benefits and/or vocational retraining benefits. Loss of earning capacity benefits are designed to compensate the worker for a percentage loss of earning capacity due to the work-related injury or condition. LOEC benefits are only available if the injury is considered unscheduled or nonscheduled, that is typically to the head, neck, back, abdomen, psychological or a systemic disease. Scheduled injuries or conditions, itemized in Wis. Stats. Sec. 102.52 are injuries to the arms and legs and appendages. Scheduled injuries are paid based on percentage of disability assigned by the doctor and factored by the number of weeks listed in the statute for each particular level of injury. A person may qualify for vocational retraining with either a scheduled or unscheduled injury.

McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin handles primarily neck and back injury workers compensation benefits claims where the injured worker cannot return to his former job or a similar job due to work-related permanent restrictions. The work restrictions may be assigned following surgery or given in lieu of surgery. The key is that the restrictions are 1) work-related, and 2) prevent the worker from returning to his date of injury employer or any job paying about the same wage rate. The restrictions may be set by a treating doctor, usually a surgeon, physiatrist or primary care physician. The doctor may request a functional capacity evaluation.