Posts Tagged ‘Permanent Partial Disability’

2017 Thanksgiving Reflections

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability, Workers Compensation

An Appreciation…

This is the season Americans traditionally reflect on what matters to them. The same is true of my staff and me. We’re deeply grateful for the clients who have placed their trust in us and offer our sincere ‘thanks’ to each of you. We’ve worked tirelessly to provide legal expertise and emotional support to the injured—military veterans and workers alike. That’s our mission. If you or a loved-one have had your military service-related injury rejected or under valued, or suffered a job-related injury, tell us about your case. (Se habla español.) There’s never a cost for case evaluations.

Maurice L. Abarr, Esq.

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NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Permanent Disability–A Somewhat Misleading Phrase

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Workers Compensation

More help from Maurice…

In the nearly 40 years that I have been representing those disabled, I have observed that the phrase “Permanent Disability” often misleads the victim of an injury into seeing himself/herself as permanently unable to work. A more correct characterization would be “Permanent Partial Disability”–i.e., some (but not all) loss of ability to perform the activities of daily living, including some work.

When the unsophisticated injury victim hears that he/she has “Permanent Disability,” often they start worrying about how they are going to survive without any ability to perform work so as to “make their living.” If it is a more minor injury, then clients tend to intuitively know that he/she still has the capability to do some work. The more seriously injured, however, can get confused when the doctors and lawyers start talking about their “Permanent Disability.”

In California Workers’ Compensation, “Permanent Partial Disability” can amount to anything between 1% and 99%. (In nearly 4 decades I have not had a 1% case but I have seen a few stipulations for as little as 3% since the 2004 Workers’ Compensation reforms were enacted (thanks to Governor Schwarzenegger). At the other extreme, I have not seen a 99% case but I have seen a few that were close to it.

If the injured person is found to have “Permanent Total Disability,” then he/she has been found to be 100% disabled. In the world of California Workers’ Compensation, that means that he/she is seen as being someone who will not likely work in the future. While that is the theory–100% means you will never work again–I have seen cases where a person with 100% disability did in fact return to the work force. This does not happen frequently. Usually it comes about because of a combination of factors, not the least of which is the injured person’s dedication to his/her own self-rehabilitation over time. With sufficient motivation, “miracles” can happen.

So, if you are the victim of an injury and the doctors (and lawyers) start talking about your “Permanent Disability,” you need to start asking what that means in your particular circumstance. It may mean a small check will eventually end up in your mailbox to compensate (another word that may be deserving of a separate blog) you for your loss. If you have lost much of your ability to do the work you have always done, you need to have a serious discussion with a qualified attorney at The Law Offices of Maurice L. Abarr, Esq. about what can be done to provide you with as much security for your future as is possible within the context of your case. We’re at your disposal.

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NOTICE:  Making a false or fraudulent Workers Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE INJURED WORKER AFTER GETTING AN AWARD OR SETTLEMENT?

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Workers Compensation

More help from Maurice…

Actually, it might just as easily be called, “Where Has All the Vocational Rehabilitation Gone?” Or, better still, “JOB VOUCHERS: The Remnants of What Was Once Called ‘Vocational Rehabilitation.’”

The Ever-shrinking Benefit
Between the late ‘70s and the early ‘90s, we had true vocational rehabilitation in California. Then, a perception began to be fostered that it was “too expensive” for employers (and their insurance carriers) so, of course, it was touted as being “abused.” (I will try to temper my sarcasm but, after all, I have represented injured workers for more than 30 years.)

In 1993, the Legislature imposed a monetary limit of $16,000 on an individual vocational rehabilitation program–even though the average cost of a rehabilitation program before 1993 was around $40,000. Predictably, $16,000 was not enough to finance any meaningful vocational rehabilitation for the average injured worker. So, everyone started “settling VR”–i.e., they took the cash and went without any vocational rehabilitation.

Note: Occasionally the carriers would pay the full $16,000 to settle the benefit but, as time went by, they exercised the Golden Rule (“the one who has the gold…rules”) and started discounting the value down to around 50 cents on the dollar (i.e., $8,000). Some carriers were heard to settle it for as little as $2,000.

The next “reform” to vocational rehabilitation arrived in 2003. It essentially eliminated even the appearance of providing vocational rehabilitation with the institution of Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits–what is commonly referred to as a “Job Voucher.” It’s called this because the benefit is a nontransferable voucher for education-related retraining or skill enhancement (or both) at a state-approved or accredited school. All of this may sound good, but it has very little to do with getting a new job. Moreover, this benefit is only available to workers whose injuries occurred after January 1, 2004, who also did not return to work for the employer within 60 days after the Temporary Disability (TD) terminated, and whose employer did not offer a job which accommodated the worker’s limitations within 30 days of termination of TD benefits. Got all that?

Simply put, a Job Voucher would guarantee payment of a certain amount of money towards education and training of the Injured Worker–the amount being dependent upon the percentage of Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) he or she had. For instance, a PPD of 14% would entitle the Injured Worker to a job voucher which would pay up to $4,000 towards tuition and retraining costs (presuming the other conditions have been met). If the PPD was between 15% and 25%, the dollar amount of the job voucher would be $6,000. If it was between 26% and 49% it would be $8,000. If the PPD was between 50% and 99%, it would be $10,000.

Consider the plight of the injured worker who was injured before January 1, 2004 who had multiple surgeries and a protracted period of Temporary Disability and, yes, was paid TD benefits for all those years (TD benefits were limited to last only 2 years, starting with dates of injury on April 1, 2004 and later). So, does the worker get Vocational Rehabilitation because the date of injury was prior to January 1, 2004? No! The law awarding that benefit was repealed, effective January 1, 2009. Worse, the worker gets no Job Voucher either because his date of injury precedes the effective date for that benefit. Sweet, huh?

The Road Narrows Even Further
Effective January 1, 2013, if you are the injured worker and your date of injury was after January 1, 2004…and you have not returned to work for the same employer within 60 days after termination of your TD benefits…and your employer has not made you a job offer which accommodates your limitations within 30 days of the date of the termination of your TD benefits, you may now be entitled to a Job Voucher with a value of $6,000. And, it doesn’t matter what your level of PPD is. If you are 10% and otherwise qualify, it could be said that you’ve come out “ahead” (compared to the $4,000 job voucher you would have received before). But, if you are 60% disabled, you will get the same $4,000 voucher.

Use It Or Lose It
Another limitation imposed as of January 1, 2013: Injured Workers must use it within two (2) years from date it is issued or five (5) years from the date of injury, whichever is later. One more thing–you cannot settle the Job Voucher and simply take the money and invest it elsewhere (like groceries and rent) while you attend community college classes.

Perhaps this will help enable you to better chart your course.

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NOTICE:  Making a false or fraudulent Workers Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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