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Disability versus impairment in workers’ compensation ratings

| Jan 13, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

If you suffer a work-related injury, you may qualify to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

As part of that process, a doctor will determine whether your injury is an impairment or a disability. What does this mean to you?

About the ratings

According to the American Medical Association, an impairment is an alteration in health or bodily function. Workers’ compensation programs define disability as a reduction in wage-earning ability because of a work-related injury or illness. A rating for either impairment or disability represents the estimated percentage of impact the injury will have with regard to performing your daily activities. A doctor will not assign a rating unless you still show reduced functional ability once you reach “maximum medical improvement” following treatment.

Disability levels

Disabilities are usually divided into four types:

– Temporary partial disability

– Temporary total disability

– Permanent partial disability

– Permanent total disability

Temporary partial disability benefits are awarded if you have an impairment that prevents you from resuming full work duties, but you are able to manage part-time or less demanding work. If you have a permanent impairment but are able to go back to work, you may qualify for permanent partial disability benefits.

No-fault system

Arizona uses a “no-fault” system, which means that a worker injured on the job will receive financial compensation and medical benefits no matter what caused the injury. Once you know how a physician rates your injury, you will have a better understanding of the kind of workers’ compensation benefits you can expect to receive.