One of the (many) confusing things about workers’ comp comes up when you go back to work part time because your injury keeps you from working full time.
You are losing money because of the injury, so you should be compensated, but you cannot get paid the same as when you were totally off work. So what to do?
Maryland workers’ comp law has a benefit for this situation.
This post explains the difference between temporary total disability and temporary partial disability in a Maryland workers’ comp claim.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
This one is easy. If you are totally disabled from work due to your injury, you get 2/3 of your average weekly wage for the time you are off work.
This is really a math problem. What is your average weekly wage? Take 2/3 of it. That is what you get paid by the insurer.
Sometimes they pay you by the week and sometimes they pay you every other week.
We rarely fight about how much you should be paid during this time off. It’s a math problem. We most often fight about whether and when you should go back to work.
Sometimes the insurer will think you should go back earlier than your doctor does. They will usually send you to an IME and follow that doctor’s opinion. We will always follow your doctor’s opinion. If we disagree, we are heading to a hearing.
But the math part of it is not usually a big deal. It is a simple matter of calculating it properly.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
So what happens if you are back to work part time, or on light duty, and you are not making as much as you were before the injury? That is where temporary partial disability comes in.
Temporary partial disability means you are not totally disabled anymore because you can work – just not at full capacity.
In TPD, you get 50% of the difference between your average weekly wage, and your current earnings. Sounds weird at first glance, I know.
Say you were making $1000 per week before your injury. While 100% disabled, you should get paid $666 per week. That money comes from the workers’ comp insurer.
Now say you are back to work on light duty, and you are making $600 per week from your job. You are not full time or full duty so you are not getting the $1000 per week you were getting pre-injury, but you are getting paid.
But now you are making $66 less per week by working. That’s not fair!
That is why we have temporary partial disability. In this scenario, you would get $200 in TPD. The difference between your current wages and average weekly wage before the injury is $400 ($1000 – $600). You now get 50% of that difference.
So in this example, you will get paid $800 per week for being back to work light duty – $600 from your employer & $200 from the workers’ comp insurer. This is more than the $666 you were getting paid on temporary total disability, so it is a win.
And it is supposed to motivate you to return to work too.
Sounds easy enough, but the truth is that when you return to work on light duty you usually get paid a different amount each week. And we therefore have to see each and every paystub and do the math on how much TPD you are due for that week.
This is a pain, but all you have to do is get the pay stubs to my office and we will do the rest. The workers’ comp insurer does NOT get your pay stubs from the employer. You have to send them to me, and I will send them to the insurer. We can do the math and you get a check – easy!
Does it always work out for me?
No. This math doesn’t always work in your favor! I have clients who have a high average weekly wage because they got hurt right after a busy work period (like construction guys who get hurt in the fall but made lots of overtime all summer). Now they are back on light duty in the slow period and the math doesn’t work out for them. They are literally making less by working.
This stinks. But the law says you have to return to work if you are able to do light duty or limited work. It doesn’t change if you are making less. To be honest, you have to hope you are not in this situation. There is little we can do about it if you are. The benefits are set by state law and the Workers’ Comp Commissioners are bound by those laws.
I hope this post has helped explain the sometimes complicated world of temporary benefits in Maryland workers’ comp claims. It is not easy to figure out. Call me if you have any questions after reading this.
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