When a work injury occurs, the employee, employers, and insurers tend to disagree about how the injury impacts work. Due to disagreements, impairment ratings are important tools that help all affected parties come to an agreement. This tool is typically used when establishing disability benefits or workers’ compensation.
What is an Impairment Rating?
An impairment rating is an assessment of one’s injuries. The objective of the impairment rating is to allow affected parties to come to conclusions about work ability, disability benefits, and workers’ compensation claims. During an Impairment Rating Evaluation, a medical professional analyzes the severity of one’s injuries. Before this evaluation can take place, the employee must receive 104 weeks of benefits for the injury. Similarly, the physician must conclude that the injured party has reached maximum medical improvement.
The designated percentage number allows insurers, employers, and the employee to understand how the injury will affect their work. The medical practitioner is an unbiased source, leading to a more realistic analysis of the injury and its impact on one’s ability to work. Therefore, an impairment rating is often essential when filing for disability benefits or workers’ compensation.
Different Types of Impairment and Disability
To understand how injuries impact benefits, it is important to understand the difference between impairment and disability. According to the IME Care Center, disability refers to a disadvantage in ability to complete certain tasks. However, impairment refers to the issue affecting a person’s physical or cognitive condition. For example, two people may have the same impairment, however, only one may be considered disabled. Disability is dependent on how one’s impairment impacts their ability to perform tasks at work.
Those who are considered permanently impaired or totally disabled tend to receive larger disability benefits for a longer amount of time. This is due to the severity of the injury impacting one’s ability to work. Those who have an Impairment Rating Evaluation above 50 percent are considered totally disabled. Those who are considered temporarily impaired or partially disabled tend to receive less benefits for a shorter amount of time. One is considered partially disabled when an impairment rating indicates that the employee can return to work. Typically, the employee must work a less stressful job with lower pay.
The Problem with Impairment Ratings
Impairment ratings can be useful tools, however, there are problems with the system that assigns these ratings. Statistics indicate that 70 percent of impairment ratings are erroneous. Typically, physicians are not taught impairment ratings throughout their education. Therefore, ignorance or bias may negatively affect the rating. Overall, statistics claim that errors cost insurers an estimated $10,000 per claim.
Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks LLP Advocate for Injured Workers
If you or a loved one was injured on the job, please consider the services of a Cherry Hill workers’ compensation lawyer at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks LLP. Our lawyers work closely with clients to obtain the compensation they deserve. If you are interested in speaking to one of our lawyers, contact us online or call us at 856-761-3773 for a free consultation. With an office located in Cherry Hill, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey and the City of Camden.