Have you been injured at work? Have those injuries led to prolonged recovery time and affected your ability to work, thereby resulting in wage loss or permanent physical impairment? If you’ve answered yes, then
by the workers’ compensation law, you are eligible for disability benefits in North Carolina. Read on to understand what these benefits are and when they are paid.
If the injuries sustained at work prevent you from going to work and performing your job duties, you may be entitled to partial wage-replacement benefits by law. These benefits are offered through workers’ compensation. However, two things are essential to understand, and these are that:
Payments of partially lost income, in general, may not be available unless your condition requires you to miss work for at least seven days and more. This means that you may not receive any payment under partial wage-replacement benefits for the first seven days that you miss work unless your disability lasts more than 21 days.
In addition to this, disability payments under workers’ compensation are typically made weekly. Moreover, the payments equal 2/3 of the average weekly wage. This is perhaps 66.6 percent of your wage and up to a cap, which is annually adjusted.
Although collecting disability benefits should simple, in reality, these claims are complicated when they are actively contested by employers and insurance companies. Therefore, it is advisable to work with an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer in North Carolina who can navigate you through the process and help protect your rights.
Types of Disability Benefits
Under the North Carolina workers’ compensation law, disability benefits are divided into four categories. The type of benefit you may qualify for predominantly depends on:
- The length of your disability (when it is expected to last) such as is it temporary or permanent
- Disability extent such as is it partial or total
Simply stated, each category has its qualification requirements and specific payments. Take a look to learn more:
◊ Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Benefits under TTD are paid during the healing period after the workplace accident or occupational disease; and when the injured worker is unable to work in suitable employment. The term ‘suitable employment’ is a complex concept and is variable case to case. Therefore, it’s best to let a lawyer lead the way and guide you through it.
Apart from that, to receive TTD, the waiting period is of seven days. Note that the seven days don’t necessarily have to be consecutive. Also, it is the injured worker’s responsibility to prove the disability so that you can receive TTD benefits. The best way to do so is to provide a physician’s note that authorizes you to rest and not work.
In addition to this, temporary total disability benefits apply during the healing period even if the worker returns to work and with some physical restriction that can’t be accommodated by the employer.
The employer may stop TTD payments if they can convince the Industrial Commission that the employee is no longer disabled.
◊ Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
During the healing period, these benefits are offered when the injured worker returns to work but at a lower wage. The seven day waiting period applies here too. The amount of temporary partial disability benefits is 2/3rd of the difference between the employee’s average weekly wage and earned wages after the injury.
◊ Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
The Permanent Partial Disability benefits are offered to the injured worker at the end of their healing period. It is legally known as Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). However, the second condition that the injured worker shall fulfill to qualify for the benefits is that they must continue to have impairment in one of the body parts, as mentioned in NCGS 97-31.
In simple terms, these injuries are known as scheduled injuries, which are categorized as disabling under the North Carolina workers’ compensation law. Under NCGS 97-31, every schedule body part is assigned a specific number of weeks until benefits are disbursed.
For instance, a hand injury falls under scheduled injury, which has been assigned 200 weeks of benefits. Thus, when the worker reaches MMI for the scheduled injury, their physician will determine a percentage disability rating for that body part. This shows the percentage loss of function to the injured body part. The amount of payments is offered depending on the impairment rating of the physician. This is subject to change if you can show a substantial worsening of the injury.
◊ Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
You may be entitled to this benefit if you have lost your ability to earn wages for good. Payments under this category are made indefinitely. They are calculated based on the wages that you earned during the year before your disabling accident.
These benefits are mostly available if the victim losses both feet, arms, legs, eyes, or any two of these. Other exceptions to these benefits are spinal injuries resulting in paralysis and second and third-degree burns over a third of the body’s surface.
◊ Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Similar to wage-replacement benefit, an injured worker shall receive this if your workplace injuries prevent you from working for a specific time. However, they are limited to 500 weeks of payment and 2/3 of the average weekly wage up to the cap.
For more information on disability benefits in North Carolina or legal assistance, contact us today. Our seasoned lawyer will guide you through and assist you in every step of the process, helping you to pursue the financial benefits that you may be entitled to.