Under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law, disability benefits are available to qualifying employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses that prevent them from doing their jobs. There are four types of disability benefits, all of which are available to injured workers in different scenarios.
In this article, our Raleigh workers’ compensation attorneys explain what injured workers need to know about temporary partial disability (or TPD) benefits. Keep reading to find out if you qualify for these benefits after an on-the-job injury, or contact the Whitley Law Firm for free today.
When Do You Qualify for Temporary Partial Disability Benefits?
Temporary partial disability benefits are paid to eligible employees who are unable to perform all of their usual job duties due to a work-related injury or illness. More specifically, the North Carolina Industrial Commission defines temporary partial disability as “that period when recovery has reached the stage of improvement so that the person may begin some kinds of gainful employment.”
If you suffer a work-related injury or illness that puts you out of work for at least seven days (the minimum period required for temporary disability benefit eligibility) and then return to work in a limited capacity, this is the point at which you would qualify for TPD benefits.
It is important to understand the distinction between medical benefits and disability benefits under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law. If you are an eligible employee, you can receive medical benefits regardless of how long you are out of work. But, you are only eligible for disability benefits if you miss work for a minimum of seven days. In many cases, employers will provide employees with medical coverage but still dispute their claims for disability.
How Much Can You Receive in Temporary Partial Disability Benefits?
If you qualify for temporary partial disability benefits, you are entitled to a weekly benefit payment calculated as two-thirds of the difference between your current weekly income and your average weekly wage before your injury or illness (subject to a statutory maximum). For example, if you are currently only able to earn $700 per week and your average weekly wage before your injury or illness was $1,000, then you would be entitled to approximately $200 per week in TPD benefits.
Temporary partial disability benefit payments typically are not subject to income tax. However, you must still pay tax on your reduced wages or salary. This will be important to keep in mind when preparing your tax returns at the end of the year.
How Long Can You Collect Temporary Partial Disability Benefits?
Injured employees in North Carolina can potentially receive temporary partial disability benefits for up to 500 weeks. If, after diagnosing you with a temporary disability, your doctor determines that you have reached your “maximum medical improvement” and you still aren’t completely better, you may become eligible for permanent partial disability (or PPD) benefits instead.
PPD benefits are limited by impairment ratings for “scheduled injuries” (i.e., injury to or loss of a particular part of the body). This can limit the total amount you are eligible to receive for your injury or illness. As such, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help maximize your financial recovery.
When Do Temporary Partial Disability Benefits End?
Unless your doctor diagnoses you with a permanent disability, your temporary partial disability benefits will end when you are able to resume all of your normal job duties. It is important to make an informed decision about when you take this step, as you do not want to take on your full work responsibilities too soon. If you do, not only could you lose out on workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to receive, but you could potentially experience unnecessary complications or delays in your recovery as well.
How Do You File a Claim for Temporary Partial Disability Benefits?
Do you think you may have a claim for temporary partial disability benefits? If so, there are some important steps you should take promptly.
First, you should promptly report your work injury or illness to your employer. You should also find out if your employer (or its insurance company) has a designated health care provider. If so, you will need to see this provider in order to preserve your claim for benefits.
You should also speak with a workers’ compensation attorney about your claim. Securing workers’ compensation benefits is not easy, and this is often particularly true with regard to TPD benefits. However, having a qualified lawyer on your side can make a big difference.
Are You Entitled to Temporary Partial Disability Benefits? Contact a Raleigh Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
Workers are generally unaware of what benefits they may be entitled to after a job-related accident, injury, or illness. If you are unable to work, it is of the utmost importance to know your rights and get the full benefits you deserve.
Contact the Whitley Law Firm at (919) 785-9000 today to discuss your eligibility for temporary partial disability and other workers’ comp benefits. Our New Bern workers’ compensation lawyers serve clients in Raleigh, Kinston, New Bern, and all of North Carolina. It won’t cost anything to see if we can help.