Sometimes, understanding the Florida statutes, or laws, regarding workers’ compensation benefits can be difficult. This is especially true when reading section 440.15 of the Florida Statutes which covers impairment benefits. Impairment benefits are based on the percentage of impairment, or the “impairment rating” the physician assigns the injured worker once he or she has reached “maximum medical improvement.” Only statute-approved physicians can determine an impairment rating, and once the physician has done so, impairment benefits are due and payable within 14 days after the carrier (the workers’ compensation insurance carrier) has knowledge of the impairment.
Impairment ratings are based solely upon the employee’s physical diagnosis and findings, and in no way reflect that employee’s limitations. The impairment rating also has nothing to do with any disability the injured worker may have. Impairment benefits are paid every two weeks, at the rate of 75% of the employee’s compensation rate, if the employee is not working. If the injured worker has gone back to work, the impairment benefits are paid at 50% of the injured worker’s compensation rate.
The period of time for which impairment benefits are paid is figured according to the impairment rating. The statute states benefits are paid for the following periods:
This means that if you are given an impairment rating of 22%, you receive two weeks times ten (20 weeks) of benefits for your percentage points from 1% through 10%, three weeks times five (15 weeks) of benefits for your percentage points from 11% through 15%, four weeks times five (20 weeks) of benefits for your percentage points from 16% through 20%, and six weeks times two (12 weeks) for your percentage points from 21% to 22%. All these weeks are added together, so for an impairment rating of 22%, you would receive a total of sixty-seven (67) weeks of benefits paid.
Navigating the workers’ compensation system can be an overwhelming and daunting task. Let the experienced attorneys at Lancaster & Eure help you through this difficult time. Each attorney gives every client unique and personal attention. Call us for a free consultation (941) 365-7575, or, feel free to contact us online.