Temporary Disability Benefits
If you are injured on the job and are taken off work by your treating physician, you may be entitled to temporary disability benefits for the time you miss work. These benefits are not related to Social Security disability or any short or long term disability offered by your employer that is not workers' compensation related.
Temporary Disability Benefits are paid by the insurance company or self-insured employer and are to replace lost wages. These benefits are not paid by the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. An employee is entitled to 66 2/3% of his/her average weekly wages in temporary total disability (TTD) benefits while taken off work by the authorized treating physician due to the workplace injury, as long as the benefit amount is within the maximum or minimum amounts established by the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act. Click here (PDF) to see the current maximum and minimum amounts.
Total vs. Partial
There are two types of Temporary Disability Benefits: Temporary Total Disability Benefits and Temporary Partial Disability Benefits.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits
Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits may apply if the injured employee is taken off all work by the authorized treating physician and are due beginning on the eighth day of the disability. If the disability lasts fourteen (14) days, benefits will be paid back to the first day of disability. The amount of TTD benefits is usually two-thirds of your average weekly wages earned during the 52 weeks prior to your injury. If you are able to work, but your average weekly earning are reduced because of job restrictions, you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. The employer must submit a Wage Statement (Form C-41) to the insurance adjuster. This wage statement will list the injured employee’s gross earnings for the fifty-two (52) weeks prior to the date of injury and should show all earnings including overtime and bonuses. To determine the benefit, gross earnings are totaled and divided by 52 (the number of weeks in a year). The result is the employee's average weekly wage. The average weekly wage is multiplied by .667 to determine the employee's weekly compensation rate.
If an injured employee has worked for his/her employer for less than 52 weeks at the time of the injury, the weekly compensation rate must be figured by one of the following two methods:
- By counting the number of weeks the injured employee has worked for that employer and calculating gross earnings for those weeks. The gross earnings are divided by the actual number of weeks employed with that employer; or,
- By calculating the average weekly wage earned by a similar worker employed with the same employer performing the same job as the injured employee during the 52 weeks prior to the injury.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits may apply if the injured employee is placed on “light duty” or restricted to working fewer hours than normal by the authorized treating physician. During the course of treatment for a work-related injury, the treating physician may determine an injured employee can return to work on “light duty.” If the authorized treating physician restricts an injured employee’s ability to work, such as limiting the number of hours worked or the type of work performed, it is very important that the physician’s instructions and restrictions are followed at all times. The employee should get a detailed description of work restrictions from the doctor to provide the employer. If the employer can provide work within those restrictions, it should do so. Failure to report for light duty offered by the employer may terminate temporary disability benefits. If the employee is paid a lesser pay or is restricted to fewer hours because of the light duty, the employee is entitled to "temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits”. These benefits are figured at 66 2/3% of the difference between the gross light duty wages and the employee’s average weekly wage, subject to the same maximum and minimum workers' compensation rates described above. The employer must submit a Wage Statement (Form C-41) to the insurance adjuster.
Example: If an Employee’s average weekly wage were $600.00 per week before being injured, but the same Employee was only able to earn $200.00 per week while on light duty. The temporary partial disability benefit would be calculated in this manner:
$600.00 minus $200.00 equals $400.00 difference in pay due to the light duty restrictions. 66 2/3% of $400.00 equals $266.68.
Therefore, the Employee will earn $200.00 in wages and would receive $266.68 in workers' compensation temporary partial disability benefits. However, if the employer is unable to meet the restrictions provided by the treating physician, the injured employee would remain off work and his/her temporary total disability benefits described above would continue.
Payment of Benefits
Temporary disability payments for work missed due to a compensable work-related injury or illness must be received by the injured employee no later than 15 calendar days after the notice of injury. Unpaid or untimely paid benefits may be subject to a penalty.
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Stopping Temporary Disability Benefits:
There are several circumstances under which the temporary disability benefits stop:
- When an injured employee is released by the authorized treating physician to return to work without restrictions;
- If an injured employee refuses to comply with a reasonable request for medical examination or to accept medical treatment, compensation may be stopped for the period of time an employee continues the refusal;
- If the employer or insurance carrier has been paying benefits and discovers those payments were made in error, the insurance carrier can stop benefit payments, but must file a Notice of Controversy (Form C-27);
- When an injured employee’s treating physician determines the employee has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), and the compensability of the injury has not been contested.
Payments must continue until the earlier of the following events:
- An injured employee accepts or rejects a job offered by the employer at a wage equal to or greater than the employee's pre-injury wage; or,
- A Benefit Review Conference is held and a report is filed by the Bureau.
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