Disability Classifications

Workers’ Compensation Attorney with Offices in Queens and the Bronx

Representing New York clients facing workers’ compensation legal matters

If you are injured because of a work related incident, you may be entitled to cash benefits. To determine the benefits, the treating health care provider will assess the extent of the disability. Workers’ compensation benefits are directly related to the extent of your disability and having representation to fight disputes about the extent of a disability is best. Knowing your classification of disability can mean a huge difference to your recovery. The Law Offices of George Poulos has over 25 years of experience fighting for those who are injured on the job. Though workers’ compensation is in place to protect you, the insurance company may work to limit the extent of your payout when possible. If you face a dispute regarding your classification or degree of disability, contact The Law Offices of George Poulos for a consultation.

Classifications of disabilities in NY

The Workers’ Compensation Board has established a set of classifications to determine the cash payout for an injury or disease caused by an occupation. The classifications are followed ordinarily when the injury involves a body part other than an extremity or when an extremity is injured but meets certain criteria as chronic, degenerating and or debilitating.:

  • Permanent Total Disability: The worker’s ability to earn is permanently and totally lost. There is no chance at returning to work.
  • Permanent Partial Disability: The worker’s ability to earn has been partially lost. These benefits are temporary and depend on the severity of the injury or illness and the body part.

There are also degrees of temporary disability, which, as the name suggests, are to be reported every 90 days by competent medical evidence in order to substantiate.

  • Temporary Total Disability: A worker’s ability to earn is totally lost, but only temporarily.
  • Temporary Partial Disability: A worker’s ability to earn is partially lost, but only temporarily.

Permanent partial disability, schedule loss of use, and non-schedule

When a party’s injuries or illness are categorized as permanent partial disability and a finding of maximum medical improvement (MMI) has been made, usually within two years after the injury, benefits that may be provided will depend on the following.

  • Schedule loss of use (SLU): A schedule loss of use is when an employee permanently loses ability with an upper extremity, the hands, arms, wrists, elbows, or shoulders, or a lower extremity including the hips, knees, ankles, feet or toes. These are just a few examples of schedulable conditions; Hearing Loss from your job after you separate from the noise exposure, or other kinds of losses may be measured by a schedule loss of use award. This award is expressed as a percentage loss of use – that percentage translates directly into a number of weeks of compensation assigned by the law. For example, 100% loss of use of the arm is equal to 312 weeks of compensation.
  • Non-schedule: This involves permanent disability involving a body part or condition not covered above or one which meets criteria under the Permanent Impairment Guidelines. These claims typically involve spine injuries, psychological injuries or degenerative chronic conditions to the extremities.These injuries are subject to a cap on weekly indemnity benefits if the accident occurred after 2007 but may lead to lifetime benefits if either 100% Permanent total disability is found or alternatively a finding of the claimant being ‘incapable of gainful employment’ or total industrial disability is made.

    The Law measures the number of weeks of benefits based on a determination made by the Law Judge, called a Loss of Wage Earning Capacity or LWEC. LWEC is determined by examining vocational evidence such as age, education, and experience along with medical evidence of disability. A percentage LWEC is then found which equates to a number of weeks; minimum 225 weeks. The rate of benefits may be according to the percent LWEC or calculated based on the ‘reduced earnings’, if present, of a Permanently Partially Disabled claimant who has returned to work at the time of classification.

Contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney

If you are facing a dispute with the workers’ compensation insurance provider, contact The Law Offices of George Poulos. Our firm is ready to assess your situation, help you understand your legal options, and effectively represent your needs. Contact our firm to schedule a consultation.