Injured on the Job in Florida, What Rights Do You Have? - Part 4
2) Temporary Partial Disability, referred to as TPD, may be payable when the worker is still under the doctors care and has been released to return to work with restrictions (ie. no lifting greater than 20 lbs or no bending, twisting, kneeling etc.). If the employer can not or chooses not to provide the worker with a job that accommodates these restrictions the worker is entitled to be paid TPD at the rate of sixty-four percent (64%) of the AWW. On the other hand, if the employer does allow the injured worker to return and provides a job that meets the doctors restrictions then the Temporary Partial Benefit will be due if the worker makes less than 80% of his or her AWW. There is a formula to determine how much TPD the worker will get in addition to their earnings. The formula to calculate TPD is: 80 percent of the difference between 80 percent of the employee's average weekly wage and the salary, wages, and other remuneration the employee is able to earn post injury. For example, if the injured worker has an AWW of $300 and returns to work (while still under the doctors care) earning $100 on light duty, the worker is entitled to $112 as a TPD benefit from workers' compensation for that week ($300 AWW x .8 = $240 - $100 Earned x .8 = $112). Keep in mind the 80% rule: If the injured worker goes back to work in this example and earns $240 per week or more, he or she is earning at least 80% of the AWW (ie. $300 x .80 = $240) so no TPD benefits will be due that week. Again, the doctor should give the injured worker a prescription or a form DWC-25 stating the injured worker is under treatment, has not reached Maximum Medical Improvement, and is limited to returning to work with specific restrictions. These TPD benefits must also be paid every 2 weeks while the injured worker remains on a Limited Work Status (sometimes referred to as Light Duty status).
Temporary Total and Temporary Partial Disability benefits are subject to a cap of 104 weeks between then. This means that an injured worker can not collect more than 104 weeks of these benefits individually or combined (ie. if the worker is getting Temporary Total while kept out of work by his doctor for 75 weeks and then is placed back to work on light duty while still under the doctors' care, he or she can only receive Temporary Partial benefits for another 29 week. At that point the full 104 weeks will be used up). That is not to say that every injured worker will collect 104 weeks of temporary benefits. To the contrary, very few actually go that long on Temporary Benefits because they automatically stop when the doctor places the worker at MMI (MMI is a concept which I discussed earlier under the Medical Care section above).
Florida's Workers' compensation Law also provides an injured worker with the opportunity to seek retraining if approved by the State's Vocational Rehabilitation Department (in which case the State pays for the retraining). During the retraining process, an injured worker may collect benefits similar to Temporary Total Disability payments for up to one year (but even these benefits, when combined with other Temporary benefits, cannot exceed 104 weeks of payments).
3) Permanent Impairment Benefits. After the worker has reached MMI, each treating doctor must review a publication called the Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule (1996) to determine if the worker has a permanent impairment and if so how much impairment to assign. After the total whole body permanent impairment rating is calculated, the worker is entitled to receive the benefits. Payment of these benefits should start 14 days after the insurance carrier has knowledge that the worker has reached MMI. These benefits are supposed to be paid out bi-weekly (but are often paid out in one lump sum by check from the insurance company for administrative convenience). The weekly amount of the benefit is determined by whether or not the worker is currently working and earning wages equal to or in excess of the AWW. If he or she is not employed and earning wages equal to or in excess of the AWW, then the amount due for that week will be 75% of the workers Temporary Total amount (this comes to approximately 50% of the AWW). For each week an impairment benefit check is due, if during that week the worker is employed and earning at least the AWW amount, then the benefit is cut by 50% for that week.