If you suffered a workplace injury and are considering filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is important to understand how impairment ratings affect workers’ compensation and disability benefits.
Impairment rating in an Orangeburg workers’ compensation case is a doctor’s evaluation of a worker’s injury. It occurs after a period of recovery and results in a determination of a percentage that a disability affects a worker. This then entitles a worker to a certain amount of disability payments.
If you suffered a work injury and are considering filing for workers’ compensation benefits, a workers’ compensation attorney is ready to help. Working with a qualified lawyer in Orangeburg could help ensure your impairment rating is accurate so you receive the proper amount of benefits to which you are entitled.
Definition of Disability and Impairment Rating
The South Carolina Code §42-1-120 defines disability as an incapacity, due to an injury, to earn the wages which the employee was receiving at the time of their injury. Under the code, disabilities that qualify for compensation include the partial or complete loss of, or loss of the function of, a body part, organ, or system. The disability may be either temporary or permanent.
A doctor’s impairment rating is the evaluation they give a worker to determine the severity of their disability. This then determines the amount to workers’ compensation benefits to which they may be entitled. South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act § 42-9-30 establishes that each body part that is injured is worth a certain number of weeks of payment. For more information about the impairment rating in an Orangeburg workers’ compensation case, consult with a knowledgeable attorney.
When Does a Worker Receive their Rating?
Impairment ratings are not issued until a person has reached their maximum medical improvement (MMI). Maximum medical improvement is considered to be the point at which a person’s condition has stabilized. It is important to note that maximum medical improvement does not mean a worker is entirely healed. It is simply a point at which the doctor feels that a person will not experience any decline in their functionality.
Factors Considered in Doctor’s Evaluation
After a doctor has determined a person has reached their maximum medical improvement, they will use official medical guides to determine the worker’s impairment rating. A doctor will review charts related to a specific type of injury and consider other factors such as:
- Physical therapy
- Work restrictions
- Decreased range of motion
- Ongoing pain
The Impact of an Impairment Rating
The Workers’ Compensation Act § 42-9-30 correlates the loss of individual body parts with a certain number of weeks of disability payment. For example, the loss of a thumb equals 66 and 2/3 percent of a worker’s average weekly wages for 65 weeks. The loss of a hand equals 66 and 2/3 percent of a worker’s average weekly wages for 185 weeks. The loss of a leg equals 66 and 2/3 percent of worker’s average weekly wages for 195 weeks.
If a doctor determines that a worker has an impairment rating of 15 percent for the loss of a finger, this would then entitle a worker to 15 percent of the workers’ average weekly wage. However, an impairment rating may not properly consider whether a worker is truly able to perform the other 85 percent of their job functions.
Seek the Advice of a Workers’ Compensation Attorney on Impairment Ratings
If you received an impairment rating in an Orangeburg workers’ compensation case or are considering filing a claim, you may be unsure of the next steps to take. For any questions or concerns you have about the requirements and process of filing a workers’ compensation claim, consider contacting an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.