If you have been injured at work in Pennsylvania, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation wage loss benefits. Under the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act, you are entitled to wage loss benefits (rate is based on a scale and your average weekly wage – for more information, you can LINK HERE).
Wage loss benefits may be payable as total disability benefits, partial disability benefits, or specific loss benefits. It is important to understand that you become eligible for these benefits if your employer/insurance carrier decides to accept your work injury. Your employer/insurance carrier have an absolute right to deny your work injury. They do so for many different reasons (you can LINK HERE for further information.) If they deny your work injury, you then must litigate a claim petition and win your benefits. This litigation can take anywhere between 7 and 12 months. Let me explain the type of wage loss benefits the Act provides an injured worker in Pennsylvania.
Total Disability Benefits (TTD)
Pennsylvania pays total disability wage loss benefits to injured workers who need more than seven days off work due to their work injuries. The quark in the wage loss is that the first seven days of disability are not immediately payable. Essentially, total disability benefits begin when an injured worker misses eight days; the first seven days are not payable unless the injured worker misses 15 days due to the work injury. Those seven days will be paid retroactively.
These benefits are paid until (except for some nuances with maximum medical improvement (MMI) until you return to work, or until a Workers Compensation Judge (WCJ) modifies, suspends, or terminates your benefits.
Partial Disability Benefits (PTD)
Partial disability benefits are paid if you’re able to return to work but are earning less than you normally do or if you receive a disability rating of less than 35% (Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) process when you reach MMI). In most cases, it occurs when an injured worker returns to work in light duty, but their wages are not paid at the same rate as their pre-injury job.
These benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your wages before the injury and what you receive when your return to work. As an example, if you made $20.00/hr for 40 hours per week ($800.00 average weekly wage) prior to the work injury, but you return to work in light duty, but your employer is only paying you $10.00/hr ($400.00 per week), you are entitled to 2/3 the difference ($400.00 times 2/3 would be $266.68). You should still receive partial disability each week of $266.68.
Within the IRE provisions mentioned above, your wage loss benefits remain the full total disability rate, but if you are found to be less than 35% disabled (and most injured workers are found less than 35% disabled) after an IRE exam, your wage loss benefits are capped at 500 weeks (about 9.5 years). These payments will end once you’re able to earn your normal wages or after 500 weeks of disability payments (including total disability), whichever comes first.
Specific Loss Benefits
These benefits are payable to an injured worker who has suffered an amputation or loss of use of a body part. These scheduled loss of use awards are available for disabilities of certain body parts—such as the eyes, ears, arms, legs, hands, or feet—as well as for serious disfigurement of the head, face, or neck. The award is paid at two-thirds of your average weekly wage, and amount is based on the number of weeks the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act sets forth.
For example, let’s assume you had your entire index finger amputated due to the work injury. The Act specifies that you would receive 50 weeks of wage loss benefits, plus 6 additional healing weeks. You will receive 56 weeks of specific loss benefits, regardless of whether you miss any work. That is an important point to know. An injured worker is entitled to specific loss benefits, even is he/she never misses any work.
It does not have to be an amputation. You can argue ‘loss of use’ of a body part, such as your arm. The law is tricky and it has to be proven in front of a Workers Compensation Judge.
If you or someone you know has suffered a work injury, you may be entitled to Workers Compensation benefits. The trusted, experienced, and well proven team at Mooney Law has collected tens of millions of dollars for injured workers across Pennsylvania. It’s a complex process and area of law and that is why you need a proven team behind you. Call us today at 717-200-HELP or 833-MOONEYLAW to schedule an absolutely FREE consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located throughout Central Pennsylvania. We have full staffed offices in Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Carlisle, Harrisburg, Gettysburg, Hanover, and York.