Understanding Permanent Total Disability Benefits in Florida
Over the course of your employment, you may suffer from a wide range of painful injuries on the job. When that happens, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under the law – and in some cases, you may also be entitled to receive Permanent Total Disability (PTD).
PTD benefits help those who have become totally and permanently disabled as a direct result of a workplace injury. If awarded, this kind of compensation will continue until the age of 75 or death, unless you are able to eventually perform some kind of gainful employment again. This differs from Social Security Disability in that you are not allowed to work at all while you are receiving PTD benefits, even in a limited capacity.
Eligibility for PTD Benefits
To understand if you’re eligible for PTD benefits, you’ll first need to determine whether you have become permanently disabled in a total way, as defined under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act. Since 2003, the state of Florida has observed a fairly strict definition of permanent disability: Only claimants that have one or more “catastrophic injuries” may be considered for PTD benefits. Additionally, you must be unable to engage in any kind of work – including sedentary duty work – within a 50 mile radius of your home.
Under the Florida Statutes section 440.15, you may be considered totally disabled if:
- You’ve suffered a severe brain injury or head trauma.
- You received an amputation for your arm, foot, hand, or leg.
- You experience severe sensory, motor, or communication disturbances.
- You have a spinal cord injury that resulted in limb or trunk paralysis.
- You have an episodic neurological disorder.
- You are considered to be totally blind.
- You sustained second- or third-degree burns that cover 25% or more of your body.
- You sustained third-degree burns that cover 5% or more of your face and hands.
Eligibility for PTD benefits can also depend on your specific field of work: For example, if you’re a mechanic, the loss of your vision or a severe back injury might prevent you from ever obtaining work as a mechanic again. However, if you are eventually able to find work in another industry, you may not be eligible.
How Do I Receive My PTD Benefits?
To receive PTD benefits, you must file a workers’ compensation claim and notify your employer of the injury as soon as possible. Of course, most workers who become disabled for up to 6 weeks will first receive temporary disability payments, which are set at 66.67% of their weekly wages.
Once your doctor determines that your medical condition has not improved enough to work again – specifically, that you have reached “maximum medical improvement” for your disability – you may be eligible to begin getting permanent impairment benefits. The length and amount of these payments will be dependent on your physician assigned “impairment rating,” which is calculated based on the table provided in the Florida Statutes. You will either receive 3 weeks of pay for each impairment percentage point, or until you pass away.
Because it can be incredibly complicated to get your full benefits in Florida and navigate all the requirements, it’s recommended that you speak with a qualified Orlando workers’ comp lawyer right away. At Van Dingenen Law, workers’ compensation is our entire focus, and we can offer the experienced legal support that you need during this difficult time.
Call (407) 967-5377 for a free consultation!