This is a very common question for someone who is in the work comp system and has been assigned a disability rating by a physician. The rating might come from your own doctor or from a doctor you have seen for an Independent Medical Examination (IME) at the request of the insurance company. Either way, the dollar value will be the same. In most cases, however, you can pretty much assume that the insurance company doctor will give you the lowest possible rating he can find under the disability schedules.
As we have explained in some previous posts, the Minnesota work comp laws have changed pretty dramatically over the past 30+ years. The date of your injury controls most of the benefits to which you may be entitled, so if you have an older injury your benefits will be based upon the older laws which were in effect on the date you were injured. In order to keep this post relatively short and to provide a basic understanding of the issue, we are discussing injuries which have occurred since about 1995.
What is a disability rating?
A disability rating (sometimes also called an impairmant rating) is a percentage (%) rating given under the disability schedules which is intended to compensate you for some loss of the permanent use of a specific body part. It is referred to as a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) rating or an Impairment rating. It is not intended to represent “pain and suffering”, nor does it necessarily reflect how the permanent impairment has negatively affected your life or your ability to perform certain activities. In other words, a 10% disability does not necessarily mean you can still do 90% of everything you could do before, which is a common misconception. In fact, there are some fairly serious injuries which don’t have any disability rating at all.
Where do disability ratings come from?
A disability rating comes from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Worker’s Compensation Disability Schedules. The actual schedules are in the Minnesota administrative rules, chapter 5223, and can be found here. (The schedules for injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1993 begin at 5223.0300) A doctor will look at the specific portion of the disability schedules which relates to your affected body part and find the category or categories which best describes your condition. There will be a percentage listed for each category and that is where the rating comes from.
How much do I get paid for a disability rating?
This has changed somewhat over the years, but the current compensation system for disability ratings has been in place for all injuries occurring on or after October 1, 2000. It is a schedule which multiplies your disability/ impairment rating (a percentage) by a particular dollar amount. It is not tied to your average weekly wage, so a 10% rating is the same for everyone, regardless of whether you are a high wage earner or a part-time minimum wage employee.
For example: a 10% disability rating is multiplied by $80,000, resulting in a payment of $8000.
Higher disability ratings are multiplied by higher dollar amounts to reflect more serious disabilities.
Therefore, in another example: a 25% disability rating is multiplied by $95,000, resulting in a payment of $23,750.
Do I have to accept a disability rating from the insurance company doctor?
No. If the insurance company is not disputing your claim, they are required to pay you, as a minimum, whatever rating their doctor gives. However, you can file a claim for any additional rating which is supported by another doctor. So if your own doctor or surgeon gives a higher rating, you can file a claim for that percentage and take the issue before a compensation judge for determination. The ratings can be very complicated and are open to some amount of interpretation, so the insurance company’s doctor will always give the lowest possible rating. That is, after all, what the insurance company is paying him for.
There can be a number of other issues which arise relating to disability ratings and compensation, particularly with older claims or injuries to multiple body parts. This was only intended to give a general overview of the issue and answer some fairly common questions.
If you have any questions about a disability rating or any other aspect of your claim, please feel free to contact us. We provide an absolutely free consultation for any injury claim. We will always give you our honest opinion about whether you need a lawyer or whether there is anything we might be able to do for you. Insurance companies have experienced claims adjusters and attorneys working for them and they are not interested in paying you any more than they have to. In a work comp claim against a huge insurance company, it can be very helpful for you to have a good understanding of the benefits available to you and your rights within the work comp system.
If you found this post to be helpful, please share this site with your friends and co-workers as a good source of work comp information for the working men and women of northern Minnesota and the Iron Range.
Thank you for visiting our blog.