The workers’ compensation system in Florida was established to provide benefits to workers who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Besides covering medical expenses, the workers’ compensation system also provides injured workers with wage replacement benefits. These benefits compensate workers for wages they have lost as a result of their work-related injuries.
There are two main categories of wage replacement benefits: temporary disability benefits and permanent disability benefits. What are temporary disability benefits? Who is eligible to receive these benefits? How can a Tampa workers’ compensation attorney help you recover the temporary disability benefits you deserve? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Temporary Disability Benefits?
Temporary disability benefits are awarded to workers who are either unable to work or unable to earn their pre-injury wages due to their work-related injuries.
As the name suggests, temporary disability benefits are temporary. These benefits are only awarded to workers who have not yet reached maximum medical improvement, which means they are still in the process of recovering from their injuries. But if they cannot work or earn their pre-injury wages while they recover, they may be entitled to these benefits.
Temporary Partial Disability vs. Temporary Total Disability Benefits
There are two types of temporary disability benefits awarded through the workers’ compensation system: temporary total and temporary partial disability benefits.
Temporary total disability benefits, or TTD benefits, are awarded to workers who cannot perform any type of work due to their work-related injuries. It is not up to the worker to decide whether or not they can perform any type of work while they recover from their injuries—this decision must be made by their treating physician.
Temporary partial disability benefits, or TPD benefits, are awarded to injured workers who can return to work with certain restrictions. In other words, they can perform some type of work despite their injuries, but because of their work restrictions, they cannot earn more than 80% of their pre-injury wages.
For example, say you suffer a work-related injury and your doctor allows you to return to work as long as you work shorter shifts. Working a shorter shift is a work restriction. If you are an hourly worker, working shorter shifts means you will not earn as much as you did prior to your injury. If you earn less than 80% of your pre-injury wages due to this work restriction, you may be eligible for TPD benefits.
How Are Temporary Disability Benefits Calculated?
Both TTD and TPD benefits are supposed to replace the wages you have lost as a result of your work-related injuries. But this does not mean that they will replace 100% of your lost wages.
TTD benefits are equal to two-thirds of your pre-injury average weekly wages, up to a maximum cap of $971 per week. However, the law is different for workers who have suffered certain severe injuries. These workers may be entitled to TTD benefits that equal 80% of their pre-injury average weekly wages for a period of six months.
The formula that is used to calculate TPD benefits is a bit more complex. TPD benefits are equal to 80% of the difference between 80% of your pre-injury average weekly wages and any wages earned while working with restrictions.
For example, say you used to earn $1,000 per week before suffering a work-related injury. Your doctor has allowed you to return to work with certain restrictions. Because of these restrictions, you are only capable of earning $700 per week. This is less than 80% of your pre-injury wages, so you will qualify for TPD benefits.
To determine your TPD benefits, take 80% of your pre-injury wages, which is $800 ($1,000 X 80%= $800). Then, subtract the wages you are earning while working with restrictions, so ($800-$700)=$100. Finally, take 80% of this figure, which is $80. In this example, you would be eligible for $80 in TPD benefits per week in addition to whatever wages you are earning while working with restrictions. Together, your wages and workers’ compensation benefits would pay a total of $780 per week.
When Will Temporary Disability Benefits Begin?
You should expect to receive your first temporary disability check within 21 days after your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company is notified of your injury. Then, you will start to receive bi-weekly checks from this point forward until you are no longer eligible for benefits.
It’s important to note that wage replacement benefits are not paid for the first seven days of a temporary disability. This means you will not start earning temporary disability benefits until the 8th day of being disabled.
However, there is one exception to this rule. If you are disabled more than 21 days, you will be paid for the first week of your disability. But if your disability lasts for less than 21 days, you will not receive benefits for the first week you were disabled.
How Long Will Temporary Disability Benefits Continue?
Temporary disability benefits will not last forever. You can only receive temporary disability benefits for a total of 104 weeks or until you reach maximum medical improvement, whichever is earlier.
At this point, a doctor will evaluate your condition to determine whether or not you are eligible for permanent disability benefits, which are awarded to workers who have suffered a permanent impairment or disability due to their injuries.
Meet With A Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Discuss Your Case
Have you suffered a work-related injury? If so, it’s in your best interest to seek legal representation from the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett as soon as possible. Since 1971, our attorneys have been committed to helping the injured in the greater Tampa Bay area fight for the benefits they deserve. Let us use our extensive experience, resources, and legal knowledge to help you reach the best possible outcome in your case.
Call our law office now to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.