Last Updated: 2/26/2024


If you've been injured at work in Iowa, understanding how your workers' compensation checks are calculated is crucial. Here's a breakdown of the factors involved and how they affect your compensation.

The value of your case will depend upon a number of factors like:

  • Scheduled member injury v. Industrial injury
  • Whether or not you qualify for the 2nd injury fund
  • Whether you have permanent restrictions

Iowa workers' compensation cases have rules that apply to different types of work injuries. Injuries to the back, neck, brain, shoulder, nervous system, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and skin are considered injuries to the body as a whole also called unscheduled member injuries. Injuries to the arm, hand, fingers, leg, foot, toes, ears, or eyes are called scheduled member injuries.

The most important difference between scheduled member injuries and injuries to the body as a whole is how much compensation an injured worker will receive for permanent disability under Iowa’s work comp system.  Unless you have been through a workers’ compensation case before or have experience as an attorney representing injured workers in work comp cases you may not know about this difference in Iowa workers comp law. 

Factors That Determine Compensation

Even though a worker with a hand injury may have the same permanent restrictions as a worker with a shoulder injury, the compensation for permanent benefits is very different.  Compensation for an injury to the body as a whole (also known as an unscheduled member injury) is based upon a percentage of 500 weeks.  The percentage is determined based on various factors such as:

• The ability to work
• Permanent restrictions
• Education
• Age
• Whether surgery was performed
• Permanent impairment rating assigned
• Other various factors

For example, if a worker injured their shoulder and sustained a 10% impairment rating to their arm it would convert to a 6% body as a whole rating, then generally they should receive a minimum of 30 weeks (500 weeks X 6%) of permanent benefits.  However, given the various other factors usually the amount owed is significantly higher than the impairment rating.  For example, if the injured worker could no longer return to work they had done for many years due to the injury, then the worker may be entitled to 20%, 30%, 40% or more depending on the various other factors.  If they were found to have sustained 30% disability then they would receive 150 weeks (500 weeks X 30%) of permanent benefits. It all depends on the specific facts in your case, it is important to have an Iowa attorney who understands this so they can be sure that you are being paid the right amount for your work injury.  

Compensation for scheduled member injuries is based upon a percentage of 250 weeks depending on the impairment rating that is provided for the body part.  For example, if a worker were to have their arm amputated in a work related accident, they would receive 250 weeks of permanent disability benefits.  If the injured worker sustained a 10% permanent impairment rating to their arm due to an industrial accident then they would receive 25 weeks (250 weeks X 10%) of permanent disability benefits even if they could not return to the same work that they have done for many years. 

There are exceptions to this rule.  If the injured worker had previously injured another scheduled member (regardless of how or when it occurred, whether it is work related or not) then they may be entitled to benefits under the Iowa Second Injury Fund Act which would then provide compensation as if they sustained a body as a whole injury like to the shoulder as discussed above. 

Get Legal Help

As you can see different work injuries are treated very differently under the Iowa workers compensation system.  Unless, you have a very good understanding of the work comp laws then it is strongly recommended that you contact an Iowa work injury attorney or at the very least request a copy of the book that we have written which describes Iowa’s workers comp laws in more detail.  For your copy of our work comp book at no cost go to or call 641-792-3595

We offer work comp books at no cost because as an attorney who practices primarily in workers’ compensation law throughout the state of Iowa. Having seen firsthand too many injured workers make mistakes before they knew how Iowa’s workers' compensation laws affected them and their claim. To learn how Iowa’s work comp laws apply to your case, request your copy now

If you are not ready to speak with an attorney yet, then you should at least request a copy of our book about Iowa work injuries which is available to you at no cost, risk, or obligation. The book is called “Iowa Workers’ Compensation- An Insider’s Guide to Work Injuries” which includes 7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid if You are Hurt at Work. To order your copy click here or Call Now at 641-792-3595.


Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.