The Workers’ Compensation Board recently issued a decision regarding “work disability.” A “work disability” is part of the permanent partial disability benefit that is designed to compensate the injured worker for lost earning capacity. This decision illustrates the importance of the attending physician’s understanding of the injured worker’s job description in in determining whether the injured worker’s entitled to the work disability benefit.
Permanent partial disability benefits are determined after an injured worker is deemed medically stationary. This generally means that time or medical treatment is not expected to result in significant improvement. At this point, the workers’ compensation insurance company must gather information in order to determine whether or not the injured worker is entitled to permanent partial disability. This involves a closing examination, and an opinion from the attending physician as to whether the injured worker can return to the work he or she was doing at the time of injury.
In this particular case, the attending physician did felt the injured worker could go back to her job at the date of injury. However, the physician did not have an accurate idea of the physical requirements of the job. The attending physician mistakenly believed that the job was less physically demanding then actually described. As a result, even though the physician was releasing the injured worker back to “full duty,” the work disability was approved.
A “work disability” can be a significant benefit, and requires a clear understanding of the physical requirements of a job. When we evaluate the case at closure, we take a hard look at not just the job description, but how our client actually performed the job. In many cases, we will appeal a Notice of Closure, and in that appeal, include an accurate job description to ensure that are client has every opportunity to be fully compensated.
If you have a workers’ compensation claim, and wonder if you qualify for a work disability or other benefits, call us at 503-325-8600. We help injured workers every day.