What Do I Do When Workers’ Compensation Ends and I’m Still Disabled?
Accidents at work can result in devastating, lasting injuries for workers. While workers’ compensation is meant to help cover the costs of a workplace injury, in many cases workers’ compensation ends and the victim is still disabled. At Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf in Milwaukee, our experienced and compassionate Wisconsin workers’ compensation lawyers understand how stressful and concerning this situation can be for employees and their loved ones. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call or contact our office today to schedule a consultation of your case.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
Temporary total disability payments provide compensation while an injured worker is recovering or until they reach maximum medical improvement. For employees who are still disabled but have reached maximum medical improvement, permanent partial disability benefits may be available. Partial disability is expressed as an impairment rating, and if the worker can return to work they can collect permanent partial disability benefits in addition to their weekly wage.
Permanent partial disability is calculated as two-thirds of the average weekly wage but is capped much lower than other types of workers’ compensation benefits. If an employee is unable to earn 85 percent of their previous wages even with permanent partial disability benefits, this amount may be increased.
The length of time that permanent partial disability payments are made is determined either by a schedule created by the state or based on the impairment rating for the injured body part. For injuries on the schedule, the length of time is listed for a permanent loss or multiplied by the impairment rating for a partial loss. For unlisted injuries, the length is calculated as the impairment rating multiplied by 1,000 for the number of weeks of benefits.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
If you or a loved one has been rendered completely unable to return to work because of a workplace accident, you may qualify for permanent total disability benefits. These benefits are two-thirds the average weekly wage for the employee, calculated prior to the injury. Permanently total disability benefits last for the remainder of the employee’s life paid on a weekly basis, and they also include reasonable and necessary medical expenses.
In Wisconsin, an employee can be found permanently disabled on a medical or a vocational basis. From a medical perspective, a person can be permanently disabled if they are unable to perform any work because of the severity of the injury. From a vocational perspective, a worker is permanently disabled if they suffered a complete loss or near-complete loss of their earning capacity.
Generally speaking, permanent total disability benefits are awarded for workplace accidents that cause injuries to the back, neck, head, torso, a body system, or result in serious mental injuries. Typically, these benefits are not awarded to an injured worker who suffers a serious injury to a limb or limbs; however, they can be awarded if a worker suffers multiple injuries over the years which equates to the seriousness of the permanent disability. To learn more about whether you may qualify, talk to our office today.
Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Another option for workers that have been rendered permanently disabled by a workplace injury is to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is a federal program that is separate from Wisconsin workers’ compensation benefits. It may be possible to collect both workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits at the same time after an injury; however, Social Security has different definitions and requirements to collect benefits. First, an employee must have worked long enough to qualify for SSDI. In 2022, one credit equals $1,510 in earned income, up to four credits per year. A person qualifies for SSDI when they have accumulated forty credits, twenty of which were accumulated in the last ten years before the disability occurred.
Second, an injured worker must meet the Social Security definition of “disabled.” It is important to note that this option is only available for employees who are permanently disabled, as Social Security does not provide benefits for partial or short-term disability. A person is considered permanently disabled under SSDI if they cannot work or engage in a substantial gainful activity because of the injury, cannot do work you did previously or adjust to other work, and has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or ultimately result in death. You should always consider using a qualified attorney to apply for SSDI benefits, as applications are routinely denied and must be appealed in order to receive benefits.
Explore Third Party Claims
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, another avenue for compensation for workers who are still disabled after their workers’ compensation benefits run out is to explore third-party claims. The purpose of workers’ compensation is to provide benefits for injured workers regardless of fault in exchange for liability protection for the employer. However, there are many workplace injuries that occur because of the negligence or reckless acts of an outside party. There are many people who enter a workplace daily who are not employees of the business, and if they contributed to the accident that resulted in permanent injuries they may be held liable in a separate personal injury lawsuit for damages.
Compensation for a personal injury claim can include economic and non-economic damages that can supplement workers’ compensation benefits and provide even more financial security for disabled workers. Economic damages cover any medical bills not covered by workers’ compensation, lost wages, property damage, and loss of earning capacity. Noneconomic damages compensate an injured worker for their pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life, which workers’ compensation does not cover on its own.
Contact Our Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Now
Are you in need of experienced and knowledgeable legal advice after being injured on the job? Are you concerned about your financial security if you are still disabled after an accident but your workers’ compensation benefits are running out? At Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf our dedicated legal team is here to help. To meet with one of our Wisconsin workers’ compensation lawyers please call the office to schedule a consultation of your case today.