There are four types of disability payments under the Maryland Workers Compensation laws. Injured workers may be entitled to one or all of these benefits if their case is compensable. The four types of benefits are as follows:1. Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD)
These are payments for an injury that totally disables the employee from work for a temporary period of time. If the period of disability is 14 days or less, there is a 3 day waiting period where the employee does not receive compensation. However, the remaining days after the waiting period must be paid. If the period of disability is 15 days or more, the employee is entitled to compensation for the entire period of compensation. Usually an employee gets TTD benefits during the period that they are healing and are still totally disabled to work. Once the Claimant has reached maximum medical improvement, the TTD benefits should stop. At that time it will be up to the Commission to determine the correct amount of permanent impairment(PPD or PTD). The claimant cannot work during the period that they are receiving these benefits.2. Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD)
These are payments for an injury that partially disables the employee from work for a temporary period of time. These payments occur when the employee returns to some form of work and does not earn what they were making before they get injured. Usually an employee gets TPD benefits during the period that they are healing and are disabled from returning to work on a full time basis. Once the claimant has reached maximum medical improvement, the TPD benefits should stop. At that time it will be up to the commission to determine the correct amount of permanent impairment(PPD or PTD). TPD benefits are paid for wage loss while the employee has returned to work and is earning less. The benefits are paid at the rate of 50% of the difference of the pre injury average weekly wage and the gross wages earned after the employee returns to work.3. Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD)
These are payments for a permanent injury that partially disables the employee. Most employees that receive this award do return to work in some capacity. These payments occur after the employee has reached maximum medical improvement and has received a rating from a doctor. These benefits are paid on a weekly basis and begin after the last date of temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits are paid. There are 3 tiers for permanency benefits in the State of Maryland workers compensation arena. If the average weekly wage is very low, there are minimum payments that must be made by the insurance carrier depending upon the tier and the award. The significance of the tiers cannot be understated as an award in the second tier can be paid at more than double the rate of a first tier case. Similarly, an award for serious disability will likewise pay at a much higher rate and with an enhanced number of weeks.
The first tier is payments for 1-74 weeks of compensation. The rate of pay for first tier injures is paid at the rate of 33 1/3 % of the average weekly wage not to exceed $114.00 per week. There are other restrictions on the amount of permanent impairment paid depending upon the year of the injury. There are some exceptions to this general rule. Fingers and the great toe are paid at the second tier rate. “Public safety employees” are paid at the second tier rate if the award were to fall in the first tier. There are numerous employees that qualify for the public safety exception which include firefighters, paramedics, police officers, sheriffs and correctional officers.
The second tier is payments for 75 week or greater but less than 250 weeks. The rate of pay for second tier injuries is paid at the rate of two thirds of the average weekly wage but does not exceed one third of the State average weekly wage. The state average weekly wage changes almost every year. Please consult with one of our Maryland Workers’ Compensation Lawyers to discuss the correct rate for your case.
The third tier is payments for 250 weeks or more. When an award is made in the third tier it is called an award for serious disability. The Commission will make an award in this tier that is automatically increased by one-third of the number of weeks. The rate of pay for serious disability claims is paid at the rate of two thirds of the average weekly wage of the covered employee that does not exceed 75% of the State Average Weekly wage. When an employee has more than one concurrent employer, the employee may be able to claim a higher average weekly wage if certain conditions are met. This can greatly increase the amount of an award since the payments are directly tied to the average weekly wage.
As stated earlier, the claimant’s attorney will send their client to a physician for a permanency rating. The doctor should provide a rating to all body parts that are injured. The rating should include an explanation as to which ratings are for the accidental injury or occupational disease or which ratings are for conditions that pre-existed the occupational event. There is a table of “scheduled losses” in the Maryland system. Each body part in the schedule has a maximum value for that body part. The commission will assign a percentage of that body part after a review of the evidence. An employee that has two or more scheduled losses may be entitled to an award under “other cases.”
Below is a chart that shows the maximum value for body parts on the schedule
|First finger||40 weeks|
|Second finger||35 weeks|
|Third finger||30 weeks|
|Fourth finger||25 weeks|
|Great Toe||40 weeks|
|Other toes||10 weeks|
|Hearing||125 weeks per ear|
|Perforated Nasal Septum||20 weeks|
|Other cases||500 weeks|
The Commissioner will also award disability for mutilations or disfigurements for up to 156 weeks. Injuries that are not listed on the schedule will be awarded under “other cases.” When making an award under “other cases” the Commissioner is to consider industrial loss. When the Commissioner is considering the industrial loss to award to the injured worker several factors will be taken into account including the nature of the disability, the age, experience, occupation and training of the injured worker. The claimant cannot receive a payment for a disability (a scheduled award or other cases award) and a payment for disfigurement (scarring or mutilation) for the same injured body part. The Commissioner should apportion any award for permanent injury if it is appropriate to apportion a portion of the injury as being preexisting or something that has developed after the accident.4. Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD)
These are payments for a permanent injury that totally disables the employee from work. These payments occur after the employee has reached maximum medical improvement and has received a rating from a doctor. These benefits are paid on a weekly basis and begin after the last date of temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits are paid. In some cases, the employee may have already received an award for PPD in one or more of the tiers as previously discussed. There are also certain presumptions for permanent total disability. Loss of use of any of the following will entitle the claimant to a presumption of permanent total disability: loss of both arms, both eyes, both feet, both hands, both legs or a combination of any two of the proceeding body parts.Public Sector Employees
Public sector employees have specific setoff issues that must be dealt with when it comes to their disability payments due. These issues can affect the checks for temporary benefits (TTD and TPD) and claims for permanent benefits(PPD and PTD). There are multiple types of disability benefits that must be considered by the claimant’s lawyer.
A careful evaluation of the type of employee and the type of pension benefit which that employee received will help guide the claimant’s attorney to the correct answer regarding whether there is a set off or reduction for workers compensation benefits or not. Generally speaking, receipt of accidental disability retirement benefits will affect the entitlement to permanent disability awards. The general principle is that the legislature did not wish for injured workers to receive a double recovery. Therefore, special attention should be given to the receipt of benefits by the employer and whether anything is due from the workers compensation carrier. The other general principle is that workers compensation benefits are not usually payable to the injured worker if that injured worker is receiving a similar benefit from the employer. An injured worker can claim benefits if the workers compensation payment would equal more money for the injured worker. The rules of setoff for county, state and municipal workers can get tricky depending upon who the correct employer was and the type of benefit being received from the employer versus the type of benefit being claimed by the claimant.