Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Calculating Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): MN Work Comp

One of the workers’ compensation benefits available to injured workers in Minnesota is Permanent Partial Disability (PPD).

If your doctor determines that you’ve suffered a permanent injury, your doctor may issue what’s known as a “permanency rating.” Minnesota law sets forth a schedule for assigning permanency ratings to almost any type of permanent injury imaginable. This percentage is then multiplied by a dollar figure to determine the amount of the PPD benefit you are entitled to.

Generally, doctors do not assign permanency ratings until you have been placed at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). PPD may be paid weekly, or it may be paid in a lump sum. PPD is generally not payable while you are still receiving Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits, but you may receive PPD while you are receiving Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) or Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits.

Let’s look at an example:

Let’s assume you suffered a low back injury on the job and the workers’ compensation insurance company has admitted liability. Let’s also assume you underwent an MRI that shows a disc herniation at L4-5 that does not appear to be impinging on nerve roots or on the spinal canal. About a year after your injury, you are still experiencing back pain, and symptoms into your buttocks and leg. Your doctor concludes that you still need ongoing occasional treatment, but that your condition is permanent and you’re not likely to see major improvement with any kind of medical procedure.

Based on these facts, you would probably qualify for Permanent Partial Disability benefits. Specifically, your injury would probably qualify for a 7% rating based on Minnesota Rule 5223.0390, Subpart 4(C)(1).

This 7% rating is then multiplied by a dollar amount. Impairment ratings between 6-10 percent are multiplied by $80,000.00 which equals $5,600.00.

Seems simple, right? Determining the amount of PPD benefits you are entitled to should be relatively straight-forward. Unfortunately, insurance companies frequently underpay injured workers the amount of permanency benefits they are entitled to. If you have a permanent work injury, it’s wise to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer to make sure the insurance company pays you the PPD benefits you are entitled to.

Doctors don’t always automatically issue permanency ratings. If your doctor never issues a permanency rating for your injury, the insurance company will probably never pay you permanency benefits. Even if your doctor does issue a permanency rating, the insurance company might simply ignore it and never pay you the benefits you are entitled to.

While the schedules are intended to be fairly straightforward, in many cases, the level of permanency benefits you are entitled to may fall somewhere between ratings. For example, if a worker has a back injury and an MRI shows a herniation, and that worker is experiencing radicular symptoms, there may be a question as to whether that herniation impinges on a nerve root or not. There are different levels of permanency depending on whether an MRI evidences nerve root impingment. As a rule, the insurance company will always pay the lower permanency level.

Another situation that frequently comes up is where there are multiple body parts injured in one accident. For example, if you sustain an injury to both your neck and shoulder, you may be entitled to permanency benefits for both your shoulder and your neck. There is a specific way to combine these ratings and insurance companies often miscalculate the rating.

If there is any suggestion that your injury may have been pre-existing, or that part of your condition existed prior to your work injury, the insurance company will almost inevitably try to either avoid paying PPD benefits altogether, or they will try to take a deduction for whatever alleged “pre-existing” condition you may have. This scenario comes up very frequently with back and neck injuries.

For more information on calculating your PPD benefits, check out the following:

Minnesota Permanency Schedules
PPD Benefit Table

While calculating Minnesota workers’ compensation Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits should be relatively straightforward, the insurance company will rarely voluntarily pay the full level of benefits you are entitled to. Make sure you’re paid all the PPD benefits you’re entitled to. Call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our lawyers.

Visit Minnesota Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Law Firm, Meuser & Associates, P.A., at

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