If you suffered a permanent – but not complete – disability on the job, you may qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) under Iowa’s workers’ compensation law. The amount and duration of benefits you’re entitled to depend on which part of your body sustained the injury.
When your healing period (HP) benefits end, you will begin receiving one of two types of PPD benefits, each discussed below.
Scheduled Member Disabilities
The Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation utilizes Appendix A, a list of scheduled body members (arm, thumb, etc.), to determine worker’s PPD benefit amount. The list provides the guidelines for determining the number of weeks you’re eligible for benefits, based on what member of your body is permanently disabled.
The body members and the correlating number of eligible weeks are as follows.
- Loss of thumb – 60 weeks
- Loss of first finger – 35 weeks
- Loss of second finger – 30 weeks
- Loss of third finger – 25 weeks
- Loss of fourth finger – 20 weeks
- Loss of hand – 190 weeks
- Loss of arm – 250 weeks
- Loss of great toe – 40 weeks
- Loss of any other toe – 15 weeks
- Loss of foot – 150 weeks
- Loss of leg – 220 weeks
- Loss of eye – 140 weeks
- Loss of hearing in one ear – 50 weeks
- Loss of hearing in both ears – 175 weeks
- Permanent disfigurement, face or head – 150 weeks
- Body as a whole/industrial disability – 500 weeks
If you lose complete function of a body part listed above, you will receive the benefits for the entire duration listed. If you lose only partial function, e.g., 50 percent of the use of your arm, you will receive workers’ comp benefit for half the allotted time, or 125 weeks.
If you sustained a permanent injury to a body part not listed above, your disability is referred to as an unscheduled or industrial disability. Rather than using a list of members, your PPD benefits will be calculated according to the degree that your disability affects your earning capacity.
Injuries to the hips, shoulders, back, and neck fall under unscheduled disabilities. The Workers’ Comp board will determine your disability benefits using a variety of factors, such as those listed below.
- How the injury affected your earnings
- Your medical history
- The duration of your healing period
- Your work experience prior to the injury
- Your potential for rehabilitation
- Your qualifications, including intellectual, educational, emotional, physical, age, and motivation
- The degree of functional impairment your injury has caused
- Earnings you’ve lost as result of changing jobs to accommodate your injury
- Your inability to do work that you’re suited to do
Note that there isn’t a specific protocol for how each of these factors can be used to determine your disability rating, which means there’s a degree of discretion on the insurer’s part. If you feel like your rating is far lower than what it should be, you’ll want to contact a disability attorney for help.
Challenging Your Disability Rating
If your workers’ comp claim has been denied or the doctor has given you a lower rating than you think is fair, your attorney can guide you through the negotiations and appeals process. It’s possible your lawyer can work out an agreement with your employer or insurer to obtain a fair rating and benefit.
The workers' compensation commissioner will oversee any disputes. If it cannot be resolved by discussion and negotiation, your attorney can help you bring the issue to court for a hearing. It’s important to fight for your rights to benefits, because your workers’ comp payments will undoubtedly be a lifeline for staying afloat financially after a disability.
Speak to a Worker’s Comp Lawyer in Des Moines
For a free consult with a workers’ compensation attorney in Des Moines, call the office of Walker, Billingsley & Bair. Contact us today to speak with a member of our team at (515) 440-2852.