If you have been injured at work, you may be considering, or even in the process of filing for Workers Compensation. You may not know what to expect from the process. You may not even know if your benefits will be enough.
Depending on your state, Workers Compensation laws and procedures may differ a bit, but the basic process is the same. You begin by filing a claim. This claim is review for validity. Assuming that your claim is approved, you will begin receiving a weekly benefit package.
Now we get to the important question. How much is my Workers Compensation claim worth? In other words, will I still be able to pay my bills? Benefit amounts will differ depending on the severity of the injury. If an injury leaves the employee totally unable to work, the benefit amount is based on a fixed formula. For an injury which allows one to continue working in a limited capacity, the benefit amount is based on a rating system adapted by the American Medical Association. In this system, physical function is assessed, and a disability percentage is given to determine one’s ability to perform job functions. This AMA impairment rating, and the subsequent multiplying factor, would establish your benefit amount.
Again, some states differ when figuring out your benefit amount. General consensus among most states is that you are entitled to up to two-thirds of your average weekly income for an injury resulting in total disability. In most states, however, your benefit amount is usually limited by an established average income within your state. For example, if you get injured at work, where you receive $1000 a week, then you would be entitled to up to $666.67 per week in Workers Compensation benefits. However, if you live in a state with a lower average income, that limits the maximum benefit that you can receive. If you were earning the same $1000 per week in Kansas, for example, then you would be limited to the current average income of $546 per week.
In comparison, a worker who is only partially disabled by an injury would receive substantially less. In these cases, an AMA impairment rating would be established before the benefit amount could be determined. For the purpose of comparison, we will assume that the same employee makes the same $1000 per week. That employee is then injured at work, becoming partially disabled, and an AMA impairment rating of 25% is given. A 25% AMA impairment rating carries with it a factor of 1.15. If you multiply these together, you are left with a disability rating of 27.5%. This rating is then multiplied by the maximum benefit amount for a total disability, which leaves a maximum partial disability benefit of $183.33 per week.