Permanent Disability Benefits
Permanent Disability benefits are designed to help replace wages lost if an injury leaves an employee with a permanent impairment and the employee is unable or less able to work after the injury. Permanent 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.
Total vs. Partial
There are two types of Permanent Disability Benefits: Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits and Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits may apply if an employee retains a permanent disability because of a work-related injury and is able to return to a job in the open market. The benefit is 66 and two-thirds percent (66 2/3%) of the injured employee’s average weekly wage, subject to limitations depending upon the body part affected by the work-related injury (for injuries before July 1, 2014), and the employee’s ability to return to his/her prior employment.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits
Permanent Total Disability (PTD Benefits may apply if an employee is unable to return to any job in the open market because of a permanent disability due to a work-related injury. This benefit continues until he/she becomes eligible for old-age retirement under the social security law.
When are benefits due?
When the injury has healed and maximum medical improvement (MMI) is reached, the injured employee will likely be released from the treating physician's care. This could occur even though the injured employee may be referred for other additional services such as physical therapy, pain management and possibly work hardening sessions. When released, the authorized treating physician may assign a permanent impairment rating based on the applicable edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. View the AMA Guides notice. The impairment rating, combined with vocational factors, may result in a permanent disability award.
Determining the Benefit Amount
The impairment rating described above, combined with vocational factors, may result in a permanent disability award. Workers' Compensation Specialists with the Bureau conduct informal mediation conferences, at no cost to the parties, to assist in reaching a final determination of that award. Learn more about the Mediation Process.
After the injured employee has reached MMI and is ready to mediate the settlement of his/her workplace injury, a party involved in the claim will need to complete and submit:
- For injuries occurring on/after July 1, 2014, a Petition for Benefits Determination to request the services of a Mediating Specialist within the Bureau.
- For injuries occurring prior to July 1, 2014, a Request for Assistance/Mediation Form C-40 to request the services of a Mediating Specialist within the Bureau.
Negotiating Permanent Disability Cases
Parties are encouraged to try to settle these issues through negotiations and are allowed to attempt to resolve the issues. So, while private negotiations are allowed, no party can file suit, in any court, to resolve issues regarding permanent disability benefits and/or future medical benefits prior to mediation. This requires the full and active participation of the parties in a mediation conducted by a Mediating Specialist within the Bureau. The Mediating Specialist will issue the paperwork indicating that the process has been exhausted when he/she is convinced that continued mediations are not likely to result in an agreement and an impasse has been reached.
The Next Step Program connects permanently disabled injured workers with resources to acquire the skills needed to return to meaningful employment. With funds from this program, qualified applicants can learn new job skills for a career path.