Temporary vs. Permanent Disability: Benefits in Workers' Compensation

When an employee suffers an injury or illness due to their job, they may be eligible for disability benefits under workers' compensation laws. These benefits help replace wages lost while the employee recovers. There are two main types of disability benefits: temporary total disability and permanent total disability.

Understanding the key differences can help injured workers get the maximum benefits they deserve.

Temporary Total Disability Benefits

Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits provide income replacement if an on-the-job injury leaves an employee unable to work for a limited time. As explained by a Miami workers' compensation attorney, TTD benefits kick in on the 8th day of disability and can continue for up to 104 weeks in Florida.

To qualify for TTD, the work-related injury must be physical, like a back injury, or mental, like job-related depression. The employee must provide medical evidence from an authorized doctor stating they cannot perform their job duties or any work due to the injury. TTD ends once the doctor releases the employee to return to work without restrictions.

Some key things to know about TTD benefits include:

Permanent Total Disability Benefits

While TTD benefits help during initial recovery, some on-the-job injuries cause permanent loss of income if the employee can never return to gainful employment. Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits provide long-term support in these devastating cases.

In Florida, experienced workers’ comp attorneys explain employees qualify for PTD benefits if they cannot perform even light-duty or sedentary work. This is different from permanent partial disability, which provides benefits if an injury causes permanent impairment but the employee can still work in some capacity.

To receive PTD status, employees normally have to demonstrate:

  • Total inability to earn money due to the work-related injury
  • Condition reached “maximum medical improvement” meaning it's stable and won’t improve with more treatment
  • Disability will persist at least one year or result in death

PTD Key Details

  • Continue until age 75 or doctor deems patient can return to work
  • Equal to 66 2⁄3% of the employee’s average weekly wage
  • Subject to state maximum and minimum weekly payouts, adjusted yearly
  • Lifetime access to medically necessary treatment and prosthetics related to the injury
  • Federal tax-free income replacement

As highlighted on Florida Statutes section 440.15, candidates for PTD status include spinal cord injuries, severe burns, loss of sight or limbs, advanced lung disease, and grave brain trauma. The impact on one’s quality of life is drastic. An experienced local attorney can best help catastrophically injured employees pursue fair PTD benefits.

Appealing Denied Disability Benefits

Navigating Florida’s workers’ compensation system can prove complex. Denials of TTD and PTD benefits frequently happen without strong legal guidance. Top attorneys remind injured workers they can fight these wrongful denials through an appeals process.

In some cases, employees get denied because the insurer disputes whether the injury occurred at work or doubts its severity. Other times, the insurer cuts off TTD too soon before maximum medical improvement. Having an assertive lawyer can overcome these obstacles to win owed benefits.

The appeals process has multiple stages if challenging an insurer’s refusal to pay TTD or PTD benefits. It begins with a hearing before a local Judge of Compensation Claims. If still unsatisfied, an experienced Miami compensation attorney can request review from the First District Court of Appeal and potentially the Florida Supreme Court ([17]). Although each appeal stage takes time, persisting can make the difference in obtaining rightful disability benefits.

Steps in the Appeals Process for Denied Benefits

The appeals process to overturn wrongfully denied TTD or PTD benefits contains multiple stages under Florida’s workers’ compensation system:

  • First Level Appeal: Hearing before a Judge of Compensation Claims
    • Present evidence and testimony the insurer wrongly cut off disability payments
    • Judge decides whether to overturn denial of benefits
  • Next Level Appeal: Review by the First District Court of Appeal
    • File legal brief arguing lower court's determination was erroneous
    • Panel of judges reviews the case and issues a new ruling
  • Final Appeal: Consideration by the Florida Supreme Court
    • In limited circumstances, can escalate through additional appeals
    • Highest state court conducts review and makes final binding decision

Although navigating each phase takes time, persisting with an experienced attorney by your side can make all the difference in obtaining deserved disability benefits.

Touby, Chait & Sicking, PL have successfully represented Florida employees through all stages of workers’ compensation appeals. We understand this complex process and how to position cases to finally achieve justice.

Pursuing the Benefits You Deserve

If you or a loved one suffered a workplace injury that impacts your ability to work, you may be entitled to temporary or permanent disability benefits. The experienced attorneys at Touby, Chait & Sicking, PL are here to help injured workers in Miami maximize their compensation so they can focus on recovery.

Our legal team operates on a contingency basis so there are no upfront fees. We are committed to protecting your rights under Florida's workers' compensation laws. Our goal is to secure the wage replacement and medical benefits you need while unable to work. We assist clients with applying for benefits, appealing wrongful denials, and ensuring you receive your entitled compensation.

Call us today at 305.257.9472 for a free case review. Our dedicated lawyers will evaluate your situation and advise you on the full range of benefits you may qualify for. We are here to help you prioritize your health while maximizing your rightful workers’ compensation settlement.