Workers can suffer a work-related injury from an accident or repeated exposures at work. California’s workers’ compensation pays for lost income from these injuries. One benefit of workers’ compensation is temporary disability benefits. Because these benefits make up for lost income and help pay the bills, workers must present evidence of a TD benefit claim and make sure that their claim is promptly and quickly considered.
Temporary disability benefits
Temporary total benefits are awarded to workers who lost their wages because their work-related injury keeps them from working at their usual job. Temporary partial disability benefits are also provided to workers who cannot work their full schedule while they are recovering.
Generally, TD pays two-thirds of the pre-tax wages lost while recovering from a work-related injury within the maximum amount set by state law. Minimum and maximum wage rates are adjusted each year.
Wages are calculated by including all forms of work income such as wages, food, lodging, tips, commissions, overtime and bonuses. Income from other jobs being performed when injured may be included.
Any worker with earnings may receive TTD benefits which are paid at two-thirds of the inured workers wages when they were injured. There are minimum and maximum rates for TTD. The minimum TTD is recalculated each Jan. 1 based on the statewide average weekly wage.
Temporary disability payments start when a doctor finds that a worker cannot do their usual work for over three days or if there is an overnight hospitalization. Payments are every two weeks. These benefits are not subject to federal, state or local income taxes. Social Security taxes, union dues and retirement find contributions are not required.
Temporary disability payments stop when the recipient returns to work or the doctor releases the recipient for work or finds that the injury has improved as much as possible. For injuries after Jan. 1, 2008, TD payments will last up to 104 weeks within a five-year period from the date of injury. For a few types of long-term injuries, such as severe burns or chronic lung disease, payments can exceed more than 104 weeks and up to 240 weeks within a five-year period.
The first TD payment may be delayed if the claims administrator cannot determine whether workers’ compensation covers the injury and must investigate the claim. They will send notification of any delays, reason for the delay, request for additional information and when the decision will be issued. If no delay letter is issued within 90 days of the claim, your claim was probably accepted.
A claims administrator may have to pay a penalty for late TD payments if the worker filed a workers’ compensation claim 14 days before the payment was due and the administrator sent a late payment. When this occurs, the administrator must send an additional 10 percent of the payment.
Permanent disability benefits
Permanent disability benefits are different. PD is paid for a lasting disability that causes reduced earning capacity even after maximum medical improvement. PD benefits are paid even if the person can return to work. These benefits, however, may not cover all lost income. PD benefits may not make up losses unrelated to person’s ability to work.
An attorney can help understand your rights. They may also pursue any benefits that you deserve.