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Assigning a disability rating under workers’ compensation

If you suffer a work-related injury, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, there must first be a rating that identifies your particular type of disability.

Who assigns the rating, and what can you expect to happen as a result?

Definition of terms

Under workers’ compensation, benefits depend on whether an injured employee has a disability or an impairment. According to the American Medical Association, an impairment is an alteration to or deviation from normal body function. The term disability refers to a reduction in a wage earner's ability to work.

Types of disability

Workers’ compensation recognizes four general types of disability:

  • Temporary partial disability
  • Permanent partial disability
  • Temporary total disability
  • Permanent total disability

As an example, if your injury prevents you from working temporarily, your TTD compensation will amount to about two-thirds of the weekly pay you were receiving at the time the injury occurred. Following a waiting period of about two weeks from the date you notified your employer of your injury, you will receive workers’ compensation benefits at the same time you normally received your wages, such as weekly or bi-weekly.

Permanent disability

If you sustain an injury that results in a permanent impairment, but you are still able to work part-time or at a less demanding job than you had before, you may qualify for permanent partial disability benefits. If your impairment is such that you can never work again, you could expect to receive permanent total disability benefits.

The rating assignment

Physicians are responsible for performing disability ratings. In most states, doctors will refer to the American Medical Association guidelines. However, Minnesota is one of eight states that follows its own rating system.

Physician choice

You may choose your own doctor for treatment in most cases. However, your employer or the insurer may choose the doctor who performs the independent medical examination. The insurance company or your employer must pay for the exam. 

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