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Understanding the workers comp disability rating process

If you suffer a job-related injury and submit a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, approval depends in part on a rating process.

Who makes the decision about a disability rating and what is involved?

The no-fault system

In the state of California, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means that if you have a job-related injury, you are eligible to receive benefits no matter who was responsible for causing your injury. You should qualify for medical expenses coverage and a job displacement allowance.

Types of compensation

If your injury prevents you from returning to full employment and you must work at a less demanding or part-time job, you could receive temporary partial disability benefits. If you have a permanent impairment but are able to rejoin the workforce, you may qualify for permanent partial disability benefits. You would receive permanent total disability benefits if your injury is so severe that you can never work again.

Rating assignment

Physicians assign ratings, but only those certified may do so. Many states assign ratings based on Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment from the American Medical Association. California has its own rating system derived from the fifth edition of this guide. Once your doctor believes you have reached “maximum medical improvement” he or she will assign a disability rating. This indicates an estimation of the impact your injury will have both on your ability to perform day-to-day activities and to return to the kind of work you did prior to the injury. Whether your injury is temporary or permanent, you deserve maximum compensation to help you meet the challenges you face.