Alpharetta Assessment of Impairment Ratings

Since workers’ compensation benefits can be difficult to understand, it is often difficult for employees in Alpharetta to know when a settlement offer is fair, whether to accept a lump sum payment and when it may be time to challenge an assessment or reopen a case.

Impairment ratings also referred to as disability ratings, are one of the most confusing concepts in Georgia’s workers’ compensation scheme. These ratings determine the amount of compensation a worker should receive for a permanent partial disability (PPD), so an incorrect rating can deprive an employee of rightful benefits. In Alpharetta, assessment of impairment ratings can make the difference between sufficient and insufficient benefits, so workers often choose to consult an experienced attorney for assistance.

Workers’ Comp Benefits Affected by Impairment Ratings

The workers’ compensation scheme in Georgia pays different types of benefits depending on how an employee suffers the injury on the job. They may receive temporary total or partial disability benefits to make up for income lost while they are unable to work, or medical benefits to cover past and future medical needs. Impairment ratings do not affect these types of benefits.

Instead, employers and employees use impairment ratings to establish the amount an employee should receive for suffering a partial disability that is considered to be permanent. The PPD payment is made as compensation for losing some degree of bodily function on a permanent basis. Though the payment is calculated in terms of weeks, the amount is often paid at one time as a lump sum.

How to Set a PPD Impairment Rating

Once a doctor indicates that a worker has reached the maximum level of improvement after suffering an injury at work, that same doctor should assess that an individual to determine the level of permanent partial disability, if they are not totally disabled. This assessment provides an impairment rating with two main components: a determination of whether a disability affects the whole body or a portion of the body such as a hand or eye, and a percentage rating of the degree of disability suffered by that body part.

For instance, an employee who loses all sight in one eye would suffer a 100 percent disability in that body part. Alternatively, if a worker suffers a serious injury to one arm, the worker might be considered to have a 35 percent impairment rating for their whole body or a 70 percent impairment rating for the upper extremity.

How the Impairment Rating Affects PPD Payments

Payments for PPD injuries are calculated at a certain percentage of an employee’s weekly income benefits, which are usually set at two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage with a cap of $575 per week. The disability percentage associated with an impairment rating further determines the portion of those weekly benefits that will be paid, and the extent of the disability—in other words, how much of the body is affected—determines the number of weeks the benefit will be paid.

The amounts and length of time for which benefits are paid are set by a state schedule. Partial disabilities that affect the entire body are paid for a total of 300 weeks. By contrast, a disability affecting an eye is paid for 150 weeks. For more information about Alpharetta assessment of impairment ratings, seek the services of a knowledgeable attorney.

Determining Whether an Assessment of Impairment in Alpharetta is Accurate

According to the Official Code of Georgia §34-9-263, each impairment assessment and rating should be based on the fifth edition of the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. However, a doctor may elect to estimate the impairment rating instead or may improperly apply the standard set forth in the guidebook.

The impairment rating has a tremendous impact on the amount an injured employee receives for permanent loss of bodily function. If you would like assistance with Alpharetta assessment of impairment ratings, talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney today.

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With offices in Alpharetta, Atlanta and Marietta, we provide legal assistance to people throughout Georgia and the Southeast in all matters of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and workers’ compensation claims.

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