In our last post, we spoke a recent workers’ compensation award for a nurse who was forced to leave her job because of an allergic reaction to a chemical used in the floor wax used by her employer. The issue in that case was the extent to which the employer was responsible for providing total and disability coverage for the time she missed work.

Although both partial and total disability benefits were awarded to the nurse, she felt the coverage should have been more extensive. The issue of the extent of workers’ compensation coverage is not an uncommon one, and injured workers should understand their rights when it comes to these benefits and work with an experienced attorney to advocate their interests. 

Total and partial disability status are different both in terms of the qualifications and limitations involved. Total disability, as the name implies, is only available to workers who are completely unable to work. An employee receiving total disability may be subjected to a medical examination after 104 weeks of receiving total disability status in order to determine his or her level of impairment. If the employee is determined to be less than 50 percent impaired, his or her status may be changed to partial disability. If the impairment level is above 50 percent, the employee may continue with total disability status.

Just as an employee on total disability status may eventually be bumped down to partial disability status, so also an employee who is on partial disability status may be bumped back up to total disability status if a medical examination shows that he or she is over 50 percent impaired. The maximum duration of partial disability benefits is 500 weeks if the injured worker is able to go back to work on restrictions or the worker is found to not be totally disabled.

In our next post, we’ll speak a bit more about the importance of working with an experienced advocate when seeking out total and partial disability benefits.