When an employee is off of work while they are healing from or undergoing treatment for a work injury, they receive wage replacement benefits in the form of temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD). Temporary disability benefits last until the employee finishes healing, or has reached a healing plateau.

Usually, the employee will know that they finished healing or reached a healing plateau when their doctor discharges them from active medical treatment, or tells them to return on an “as needed” basis in the future, rather than for regularly scheduled follow-ups.

At this point, the employee’s doctor should determine what degree of permanent partial disability, or PPD, has resulted from the work injury. PPD is a rating, given as a percentage, that pertains to the specific body part, or parts, that were injured. In rating PPD, the employee’s doctor must consider whether the injured body part has been permanently impaired, relative to its condition before the employee’s work injury. PPD is given as a percentage from 0 (no permanent impairment) to 100 (either total impairment or amputation). 

PPD is always measured to the “body as a whole” for injuries to the back, neck, head, and mental health. For injuries to the limbs, PPD is measured at the joints, such as the knee or the shoulder. If an employee’s injury is between two joints, as when an employee tears a bicep muscle, the PPD is measured at the next joint closer to the torso. In the bicep muscle example, the PPD would be measured at the shoulder, rather than the elbow. 

Some permanent injuries have automatic PPD ratings. For example, if an employee undergoes a total knee replacement due to their work injury,  they would automatically get a minimum PPD rating of 50% to that knee. As another example, if an employee undergoes a C3-C4 (one level) spinal fusion as a result of their work injury, they would automatically get a minimum PPD rating of 10% to the body as a whole.

Most permanent injuries, however, receive PPD ratings that take multiple factors into account. Doctors should consider whether, compared to its pre-injury condition, an injured body part has lost range of motion, endurance or sensation; whether there is new or greater pain or weakness; and whether there are other elements the injured employee will have to deal with going forward.

PPD ratings are very important elements of worker’s compensation claims because they determine the value, in dollars, of employees’ permanent injuries. The percentage of PPD, once rated, is then converted to a number of weeks’ worth of payments. Each body part has a maximum number of weeks, and the date of injury determines the value of each weekly payment. PPD math can be complicated, but here are a few examples of these calculations.

PPD Calculation Example One

A doctor rates 20% PPD to the left knee:

Each knee is worth a total of 425 weeks, if 100% disabled or if amputated.

20% x 425 weeks = 85 weeks

PPD rate in effect on September 1, 2019 date of injury = $362.00 per week

85 weeks x $362.00 = $30,770.00

PPD Calculation Example Two

A doctor rates 35% PPD to the body as a whole (neck):

Injuries to the torso, neck, and head, and mental illness, are work a total of 1000 weeks.

35% x 1000 weeks = 350 weeks

PPD rate in effect on August 4, 2016 = $342.00 per week

350 weeks x $342.00 per week = $119,700.00

PPD math becomes more complicated when an employee has suffered injuries to multiple body parts. If an employee has any questions about the dollar value assigned to their permanent injury, they would be well-served by contacting a worker’s compensation attorney for assistance and an explanation.

Because higher PPD ratings mean more money in the employee’s pocket, worker’s compensation insurance companies often deny the PPD rating or ratings assigned by an employee’s own doctor. In that case, the insurer will send an injured employee to a doctor of its choosing for an “independent” medical evaluation. These evaluations almost always result in no PPD rating, or a lesser PPD rating than the employee’s doctor provided. If an employee is given notice of an “independent” medical evaluation, or has already been to such an evaluation, they should consider meeting with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney. At the meeting, the attorney and the employee can discuss the employee’s rights, options, and whether to appeal the insurer’s denial of the correct PPD rating.

Contact Us

Contact us if you would like to discuss your situation or legal rights with a Wisconsin workers compensation attorney. Please call a Madison worker’s compensation attorney directly at (608) 257-0040 or a Milwaukee worker’s compensation attorney at (414) 271-8650, or email us via our Contact Page.

When an employee is off of work while they are healing from or undergoing treatment for a work injury, they receive wage replacement benefits in the form of temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD). Temporary disability benefits last until the employee finishes healing, or has reached a healing plateau.

Usually, the employee will know that they finished healing or reached a healing plateau when their doctor discharges them from active medical treatment, or tells them to return on an “as needed” basis in the future, rather than for regularly scheduled follow-ups.

At this point, the employee’s doctor should determine what degree of permanent partial disability, or PPD, has resulted from the work injury. PPD is a rating, given as a percentage, that pertains to the specific body part, or parts, that were injured. In rating PPD, the employee’s doctor must consider whether the injured body part has been permanently impaired, relative to its condition before the employee’s work injury. PPD is given as a percentage from 0 (no permanent impairment) to 100 (either total impairment or amputation). 

PPD is always measured to the “body as a whole” for injuries to the back, neck, head, and mental health. For injuries to the limbs, PPD is measured at the joints, such as the knee or the shoulder. If an employee’s injury is between two joints, as when an employee tears a bicep muscle, the PPD is measured at the next joint closer to the torso. In the bicep muscle example, the PPD would be measured at the shoulder, rather than the elbow. 

Some permanent injuries have automatic PPD ratings. For example, if an employee undergoes a total knee replacement due to their work injury,  they would automatically get a minimum PPD rating of 50% to that knee. As another example, if an employee undergoes a C3-C4 (one level) spinal fusion as a result of their work injury, they would automatically get a minimum PPD rating of 10% to the body as a whole.

Most permanent injuries, however, receive PPD ratings that take multiple factors into account. Doctors should consider whether, compared to its pre-injury condition, an injured body part has lost range of motion, endurance or sensation; whether there is new or greater pain or weakness; and whether there are other elements the injured employee will have to deal with going forward.

PPD ratings are very important elements of worker’s compensation claims because they determine the value, in dollars, of employees’ permanent injuries. The percentage of PPD, once rated, is then converted to a number of weeks’ worth of payments. Each body part has a maximum number of weeks, and the date of injury determines the value of each weekly payment. PPD math can be complicated, but here are a few examples of these calculations.

PPD Calculation Example One

A doctor rates 20% PPD to the left knee:

Each knee is worth a total of 425 weeks, if 100% disabled or if amputated.

20% x 425 weeks = 85 weeks

PPD rate in effect on September 1, 2019 date of injury = $362.00 per week

85 weeks x $362.00 = $30,770.00

PPD Calculation Example Two

A doctor rates 35% PPD to the body as a whole (neck):

Injuries to the torso, neck, and head, and mental illness, are work a total of 1000 weeks.

35% x 1000 weeks = 350 weeks

PPD rate in effect on August 4, 2016 = $342.00 per week

350 weeks x $342.00 per week = $119,700.00

PPD math becomes more complicated when an employee has suffered injuries to multiple body parts. If an employee has any questions about the dollar value assigned to their permanent injury, they would be well-served by contacting a worker’s compensation attorney for assistance and an explanation.

Because higher PPD ratings mean more money in the employee’s pocket, worker’s compensation insurance companies often deny the PPD rating or ratings assigned by an employee’s own doctor. In that case, the insurer will send an injured employee to a doctor of its choosing for an “independent” medical evaluation. These evaluations almost always result in no PPD rating, or a lesser PPD rating than the employee’s doctor provided. If an employee is given notice of an “independent” medical evaluation, or has already been to such an evaluation, they should consider meeting with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney. At the meeting, the attorney and the employee can discuss the employee’s rights, options, and whether to appeal the insurer’s denial of the correct PPD rating.

Contact Us

Contact us if you would like to discuss your situation or legal rights with a Wisconsin workers compensation attorney. Please call a Madison worker’s compensation attorney directly at (608) 257-0040 or a Milwaukee worker’s compensation attorney at (414) 271-8650, or email us via our Contact Page.

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