Permanent impairment ratings, also referred to as PPD ratings, are assigned by an injured worker’s treating physician when he or she has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). The ratings are based upon the 5th Edition of the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.
In Georgia, after the doctor has assigned a rating, the workers’ compensation statute assigns a certain number of weeks of benefits for each part of the body. For example, a neck or back injury would be given an impairment rating to the body as a whole. The body as a whole is worth 300 weeks of benefits. A 10% rating to the body as a whole would be worth 10% of 300 or 30 weeks times the injured worker’s weekly compensation rate. If the injured worker’s compensation rate is $500.00 per week, a 10% rating would have a value of $15,000.00.
An arm injury would be given an impairment rating to the upper extremity and a leg injury would be given an impairment rating to the lower extremity. A 10% rating to the upper or lower extremity is worth 10% of 225 or 22.5 weeks of benefits. If an injured worker’s compensation rate is $500.00, a 10% rating to the upper or lower extremity would be worth 22.5 weeks times $500.00 or $11,250.00. Fingers, toes, hands, and feet are also allotted a specific number of weeks of benefits. Ratings are also given for hearing loss and loss of vision.
Permanent impairment ratings can be assigned to more than one part of the body if the injured worker has suffered multiple injuries. The worker is entitled to be paid for each rating. The value of the PPD rating can be paid in weekly installments until the entire rating is paid out or it can be paid in a lump sum. The workers’ compensation carrier gets to make that choice. PPD benefits cannot be paid at the same time that an injured worker is receiving weekly benefits for temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD). They are paid when all weekly benefits have ceased. If a worker has suffered a serious injury and will not be returning to his or her pre-injury job, the value of the impairment rating will typically be incorporated into the overall settlement value of the case.
If you, a friend, or a family member have suffered a work-related injury and you have questions about your impairment rating, Sadow & Froy can offer you expert legal advice. Call today at 770-984-8900.