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Transitioning from temporary to permanent workers’ compensation

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a crucial safety net for employees injured on the job, providing financial and medical benefits during recovery. In Pennsylvania, these benefits include temporary and permanent disability options. 

It is important for all workers to understand when they may transition from temporary to permanent disability. 

What is temporary disability?

Temporary disability benefits support workers who cannot work for a limited time due to an injury. These benefits cover lost wages and medical expenses during recovery. 

What is permanent disability?

Permanent disability benefits support workers whose injuries result in long-term or lifelong impairments. When an injury permanently limits a worker’s ability to perform their job or any job, they may qualify for permanent disability benefits

The transition process

The transition from temporary to permanent disability begins when a worker’s condition stabilizes, known as reaching “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). At this point, a doctor evaluates the worker to determine the extent of any permanent impairment. If the doctor concludes that the worker has a permanent disability, the case moves to the next phase.

Permanent disability evaluation

Once a worker reaches MMI, they undergo an impairment rating evaluation (IRE) to assess the level of permanent impairment. The IRE measures the percentage of the body affected by the injury. In Pennsylvania, if the IRE indicates a 35% or greater impairment, the worker has a serious injury and may qualify for permanent total disability benefits.

Benefits and compensation

If a worker qualifies for permanent disability benefits, the compensation depends on the impairment rating and the worker’s pre-injury wages. Permanent total disability benefits provide ongoing financial support, while permanent partial disability benefits are often paid as a lump sum or in scheduled payments.

Understanding workers’ compensation ensures injured workers receive appropriate benefits and support as they move from recovery to managing a long-term or permanent impairment.