Disability in Boston Workers’ Compensation

Disability in Boston workers’ compensation cases means the injured worker is unable to perform his or her job duties as a result of a work injury. In these cases, an injured worker may be eligible for disability benefits.

If you need help managing your workers’ compensation case, consult with an experienced attorney. They could handle negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf and fight for the benefits you need. Call today to discuss your case.

Partial Disability

With partial disability, a person can receive 60 percent of the difference between their pre-injury average weekly wage and their earning capacity, but they cannot receive more than 75 percent of their temporary total disability benefits.

Types of injuries that might lead to temporary partial disability are injuries that are more muscular and are non-surgical, such as neck, back, and shoulder strains. Treatment will be non-invasive and typically will include doctor office visits and physical therapy. There is usually an initial period where the injury is acute but then it starts to improve with treatment. The condition could become more chronic, and the injured worker may reach a plateau.

Light-Duty Accommodations

The employer has the option to accommodate injured workers and let them take light-duty jobs. However, sometimes an employer may not be able to accommodate a worker beyond an initial transition period or at all. This could be a policy of the employer based on risks within the place of employment. For example, the employee could be at risk of further injury or there are other safety considerations.

Temporary Total Disability

Temporary total disability is where a person is totally disabled from all forms of gainful employment. They cannot do their job and there is no other job that they are able to do for the present time and the foreseeable future. It is temporary by statute because the maximum period that a person can receive temporary total disability in Massachusetts is three years.

Someone can have a non-operative injury, such as a muscle sprain or strain that is temporarily totally disabling in the beginning. The injured worker is unable to work, but as the condition improves, he or she can transition to partial disability.

Partial Disability

There is no permanent partial disability benefit in Massachusetts as far as weekly benefits to an employee. If an injured worker has a permanent impairment or loss of function, they may be entitled to loss of function benefits under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 152 §36. Using the AMA guides to the evaluation of permanent impairment, a doctor issues an opinion as to the injured worker’s loss of function or permanent impairment rating. Depending on the body part affected, a table and formula published by the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents are used to determine the monetary benefit for the injured worker’s permanent impairment or loss of function.

Injuries that could lead to a finding of permanent impairment may include injuries that do not heal completely. For example, if someone has surgery to the back, neck, shoulder, knee, or ankle and never recovers 100 percent, then they may be eligible for loss of function benefits.

Maximum Medical Improvement

In addition to loss of function, an injured worker who has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) with residual pain and physical limitations related to the work injury may also be partially disabled and eligible to receive weekly checks for partial incapacity benefits. For example, an injured worker with a shoulder injury may have residual symptoms and limitations of the shoulder and upper extremity. They may be able to do certain things but quickly fatigue.

In another example, a person has an injury such as a disc in their back that is protruding, bulging, or herniated but is not impinging a nerve in the spinal cord. The bulging disc or protruding disc may be inoperable, or the injured worker may decide not to have surgery because it is too risky. An injured worker with an inoperable spinal disc injury will reach MMI and require pain management for chronic back pain.

Consult with a Boston Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Workers’ compensation benefits can sometimes become difficult to obtain. Especially when there is a disability in Boston workers’ compensation cases, insurance companies may be reluctant to pay the benefits you deserve. For help with your case, reach out to a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney today.