Illinois Workers’ Compensation and Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD)
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) is available under Illinois workers’ compensation law when you have a permanent injury but you are not completely disabled from working again. Usually, it’s for those who are still able to work at their job or at least some other type of job. This is different from permanent total disability (PTD). Essentially it is a part of almost every Illinois work injury claim, even if you don’t feel that you have a permanent injury.
The most common question we receive from injured workers is, “How much will I get?” Usually, the law allows you to receive 60% of your average weekly wage, for a certain number of weeks, based on the level of impairment caused by your injury. Most cases are settled, and PPD is paid as a lump sum by the employer’s insurance company. However, some go to trial. The total value of a case is determined by looking at your medical records, the type of treatment you received and might need in the future, the type of job you can currently work and subjectively how the injury affects you. Two people with similar injuries can end up having very different settlements.
Whether you have a partial permanent disability is a question that becomes relevant once you reach “maximum medical improvement.” Basically, this is the point in your recovery where your doctor believes that you are as good as you’re going to get. While you could settle your case before that time, it would be incredibly unwise as it would close out your rights to further medical care.
There are a few different types of PPD benefits:
1. Scheduled Injury
The Workers’ Compensation Act has a set schedule for some specific injuries. If you have one of these injuries, the law tells you how many weeks of benefits you’re entitled to. So you get 60% of your average weekly wage multiplied by the number of weeks. If you lose your index finger in a work accident, the law says you get 43 weeks. If you were earning $600 a week, you would get $360 a week multiplied by 43 weeks, or $15,480.
If your loss of use of a body part is less than 100%, the number of weeks of benefits is reduced accordingly. Let’s say you injure your hand and it’s determined that you’ve lost 50% of the use of your hand. The schedule says the value of 100% loss of the use of your hand is 205 weeks. You would get half of that, or 102.5 weeks, multiplied by your average weekly wage.
2. Unscheduled Injury
For an injury that is not in the set schedule, you get up to 500 weeks of 60% of your average weekly wage. For unscheduled injuries, loss of use is expressed a percentage of the body as a whole. The 500 weeks are reduced accordingly. If you have a back injury and it’s determined to have caused a 20% loss of the use of your body, then you would be entitled to 100 weeks. If your wage was $600 per week, then you would get 60% of that, or $360. The total benefits would be $36,000.
3. Wage Differential
Wage differential is available when you can’t earn as much as you used to because of your work injury. The law entitles you to a portion (66 2/3%) of the difference in your pre- and post- injury wages. If you used to earn $500 a week and you now earn $200 a week, you get 2/3 of the difference, or $200 a week. If you were injured prior to September 1, 2011, there is no time limit on how long you can receive wage differential benefits. For injuries on or after that date, wage differential benefits continue for five years or until you turn 67, whichever is later.
You can receive benefits for permanent scarring and disfigurement caused by your work injury. Generally, this must be serious and permanent to be able to get benefits. Eligibility also depends on the visibility of any scarring or disfigurement. If it’s on the face, neck, chest above the armpit, arm, hand or leg below the knee, you would qualify. Benefits are set at 162 weeks of 60% of your average weekly wage.
Note that you cannot receive disfigurement benefits and payment for permanent injury (scheduled or unscheduled). The same is true for wage differential; you can’t get paid for difference in wages and for the loss caused by your injury.
The terms “PPD” and “settlement” are often used interchangeably. Be cautious when negotiating and agreeing to a settlement. Usually, you forfeit your right to any future medical benefits. If your injury flares up a year later, it is not covered. There are ways to settle and leave medical benefits open. For more information on this, visit our page on settling claims.
It is not mandatory for an insurance company to offer a settlement and often they don’t. That said, if you hire an attorney and formally file a case, they can force the issue to get you one or if your case is not settled, you can go to trial and seek an award from an arbitrator while still keeping your medical rights open.
If you have suffered a work injury and need help getting started with your claim, or if you have been dealing with it on your own and it’s time to consider settlement, feel free to contact us. We help people find work injury lawyers throughout the state, from Chicago to Rockford to Springfield or anywhere else. We will discuss your injury with you for free and in confidence and only recommend an experienced law firm that has demonstrated great success in Illinois workers’ compensation cases.