Norcross Assessment of Impairment Ratings
The impairment rating assigned to you once you reach “maximum medical improvement” (MMI) is a crucial element of any workers’ compensation claim seeking long-term disability benefits. This rating not only determines how long you will be eligible to receive benefits for, but also what amount of benefits you can receive relative to the maximum that would be available for a total disability.
Understanding Norcross assessment of impairment ratings is often crucial to getting the most out of a workers’ comp claim. In addition to helping you construct a strong and comprehensive claim for benefits, a workers’ comp attorney could provide guidance about what disability rating you will likely receive and what they could mean for your case.
Measuring Impairment in Accordance with State Law
There are two elements to assessment of impairment ratings in Norcross, both of which are addressed and defined in Official Code of Georgia §34-9-263. The first is the schedule of income benefits, which sets maximum lengths of time—measured in weeks—that benefits may be paid out for permanent partial disability in different areas of the body. For example, the maximum amount of time that an injured worker may receive benefits for a permanent partial disability in their arm or leg is 225 weeks, whereas a permanent partial disability in an individual finger would only allow for 25 to 60 weeks of benefits at most.
The second element is the actual impairment rating, which is measured as a percentage of total disability. An impairment rating of zero percent would mean that a claimant has no permanent disability whatsoever once they reach maximum medical improvement, whereas an impairment rating of 100 percent would indicate permanent total disability. As per the aforementioned section of state law, impairment ratings in Norcross workers’ comp claims follow the standards set by the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Fifth Edition.
How Disability Ratings Impact Available Benefits
If an employer covered by workers’ compensation insurance suffers a partial disability that they will never fully recover from as a result of a work-related injury or illness, they may be eligible to receive weekly benefits of two-thirds their average weekly wage prior to becoming partially disabled. The total amount of benefits available to an individual claimant varies depending on the applicable income benefits schedule and the impairment rating that their doctor gave them upon reaching maximum medical improvement.
For example, if a worker made $900 a week before suffering a serious injury to their hand, a successful claim for partial permanent disability benefits would make them eligible to receive $600 a week for a percentage of 160 weeks equivalent to their disability rating. A disability rating of 50 percent would reduce that benefits period to 80 weeks, and a rating of 25 percent would allow for 40 weeks of benefits. A Norcross attorney could provide further guidance about what rating a particular injury is likely to warrant and what amount of benefits might be available as a result.
A Norcross Attorney Could Explain Assessment of Impairment Ratings Further
Unfortunately, while disability ratings sound like a purely objective metric, they are often anything but objective in practice. The specific rating a particular injury receives could vary wildly based on your line of work, your future earning potential, and even the specific doctor responsible for your care, so knowing what to expect ahead of time can be tremendously important to getting a fair result out of this process.
To that end, working with qualified legal counsel familiar with Norcross assessment of impairment ratings is often key to ensuring every step of your partial permanent disability claim goes as smoothly as it can. Call today to discuss assessment of impairment ratings in more details with a knowledgeable Norcross attorney.