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Who Can Survive On Permanent Disability Benefits Paid By Workers’ Compensation?

Be prepared! Get your finances in order!

In California, if you are injured on the job and a physician takes you out of work as “temporarily totally disabled”, you will receive two-thirds of your wage up to the prevailing state maximum, depending on your date of injury. This after equates to exactly two-thirds of your “gross” earnings provided your earnings are not so high that the two-thirds figure exceeds that state maximum.

This benefit, however, typically lasts until you have either received 104 weeks of temporary total disability (that is the limit for current dates of injury) or a doctor finds your condition has stabilized and finds that you have a permanent impairment, as opposed to a temporary disability.

Unfortunately, permanent disability benefits (if you are less than 100% totally permanently disabled) often are paid at only $230-$290 per week–payable in biweekly checks. Who can survive on this, especially in Southern California? Most injured workers are shocked to find out that when you are only “temporarily” disabled, you often receive a much higher weekly benefit rate than when you are “permanently” disabled.

As a result of this, I tell my new clients as soon as we meet that this will ultimately happen, when it typically happens and what I think they need to consider. The most important thing I tell them is that they won’t be able to live on such a small benefit. They need to get back to work, if at all possible – even if it is in a modified or alternative position.

The fact is that workers’ compensation settlements do not make up for a lost job and the consequences of such. So, if you are physically and/or psychologically able to go back to work–do it! Your case will still have value and you are allowed to receive permanent disability (not temporary total disability) payments even if you are back to work. Additionally, said payments are not taxable.

Finally, workers’ compensation settlement does not pay for what is known in personal injury cases as “pain and suffering”, lost wages/income, loss of future earnings or earning capacity. As such, you are better served if you are able to get back in the work force and are able to do so earlier rather than later.

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