Temporary Disability Benefits (TTD Benefits)
NJ Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability Lawyers
One of the benefits that the worker’s compensation law provides to injured workers is known as temporary disability benefits. One way to think of temporary disability benefits is as wage replacement benefits. The standard held for the receipt of benefits is whether or not the authorized doctor, which is the doctor that is provided by the worker’s compensation insurance company to treat the injured worker, believes that the worker is temporarily totally disabled (TTD).
How Temporary Workers’ Compensation Pay is Decided
If the worker’s compensation doctor finds that the injured worker is totally temporarily disabled, then he or she is entitled to receive 70% of their gross weekly wage subject to a hard cap, which goes up a little bit every year. For instance, in 2018 the maximum amount of money that an injured worker can receive on TTD is $903 per week. There are a few things that you need to understand with regard to that $903 amount. If you are an hourly worker, for instance, that is only making $500 a week, the maximum that you will be able to recover per week for the period of time that you were totally temporarily disabled is $350 (that’s 70% of $500). If the injured worker happens to be a high wage earning executive that would normally gross $5,000 a week, the worker is not going to be able to recoup 70% of $5,000. He or she will instead the receive the maximum of $903 per week, assuming that the worker was injured in 2018. That maximum cap we have referred to goes up incrementally year to year. So for instance, in 2017 it was less than $903 and in 2019 it will be more than $903 per week.
New Jersey Temporary Workers’ Compensation, Wage Replacement Benefits
Every New Jersey career deals with total temporary disability at one point or another. If the injured worker requires any sort of medical care that requires a procedure or hospital care, that person is going to be restricted from going to the workplace during that period of time. For instance, if there is an office worker who injures a shoulder at work and requires an operation, and during the period of time that he or she is undergoing surgery or rehabilitation after surgery, that injured office worker will be entitled to those wage replacement benefits just as much so as if an ironworker who suffered a fall wasn’t able to return to the workforce for a period of time.
Workers’ Compensation Law and Restricted Workload in NJ
An injured worker would be entitled to TTD or wage replacement benefits even if they are not totally temporarily disabled in the following circumstance: It may be that the injured worker has a very physically demanding job in which less demanding work is not available. For example, let’s assume the injured worker is a corrections officer and let’s assume that the correction officer has an injury to his shoulder or to a leg. During the period of time that he’s under active medical treatment for that bodily injury the treating doctor says, “I don’t think he can go back to work full duty but I do believe that he would be able to go back to work in a restricted capacity without having to for instance interact with inmates or not being able to lift his arm over his shoulder, or lift any amount of weight for any significant period of time.” The state of New Jersey might indicate that they cannot have a corrections officer come back in some restricted capacity because it’s too dangerous a job being that no one can foresee if an inmate scuffle occurs and he needs to be able to protect himself. In that case the employer will let the worker’s compensation insurance company know that they can’t accommodate any restricted duties, and at that point in time the injured worker would be allowed to collect TTD wage replacement benefits at the amounts mentioned previously. If the employer can accommodate the injury restrictions, however, then the injured worker has to go back to the workplace and the employer has to abide by those work restrictions. During that period of time, the employee will receive his normal wages.
In many instances, an injured worker is treated by more than one authorized doctor that’s been provided by the worker’s compensation insurance company. For a worker to be returned to work and no longer eligible to receive TTD or wage replacement benefits, all of the injured worker’s authorized doctors have to indicate that he or she is able to return to work without restrictions. It very well may be that an injured worker who orthopedically is cleared to go back to work is not cleared to do so by the pain management doctor, for instance, due to certain restrictions that prevent him or her from returning back to work in an unrestricted capacity. In that case, until all the doctors clear the injured worker, the injured worker would be entitled to wage replacement benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Injury Categories
There are three primary categories of worker’s compensation injuries that the courts recognize in New Jersey. While there also are environmental-type claims, the following three categories encompass the majority of workplace injuries.
The first would be an orthopedic injury, which an injury that involves the bones, the muscles, or the soft tissues surrounding the bones or muscles. This could be an injury such as a broken foot, a broken arm, or a ligament or tendon injury in the shoulder that would require rotator cuff surgery. An orthopedic injury could be an injury to the hip or spine, whether it’s in the lower back or the neck that requires pain management injections or unfortunately surgery. These orthopedic type injuries are one category of injuries that would entitle an injured worker to wage replacement benefits.
The second category of worker’s compensation injuries is neurological injuries. It may be that a worker suffers an injury and orthopedically the bones and the muscles heal but unfortunately, the nerves do not heal or the nerves take ae much longer time to heal than the bones and the muscles. For example, an injured worker with nerve damage would be one instance where due to a neurological problem, that person would be entitled to collect total temporary disability benefits or wage replacement benefits.
A third category of worker’s compensation injury is a psychological claim. It’s not uncommon in hostile work environments, for instance, or even with regard to a normal accident at work involving significant physical injury for someone to also have a psychological injury. Many times workers are unprepared for the impact that a physical injury has on not only their well being but the impact that it has on their feelings of self-worth. All workers consider their occupation as being a cornerstone of who they are as a person. If the worker has some sort of physical injury that prevents him or her from working or being the bread earner for a period of time, that plays on someone’s psyche. Oftentimes, someone suffering from a physical injury has the thought that now they are less of a person than they had been before since they can no longer provide for their family and required to try to make due with the 70% amount of normal wages that they had earned. Of course, this matter is even worse if the worker is a high-wage earner and subject to the hard cap of $903 a week in 2018, or the whatever the cap is for the appropriate year injured. These injured workers might find that they can’t make ends meet, that they can’t pay their mortgage, that they find that they can’t pay their utilities, or that they can’t have their children do the normal things that their children had done in the past. All of those things will have a negative impact on their psyche requiring counseling and/or medication management.
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CONTACT A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAW ATTORNEY
At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall located in Freehold, Trenton, Toms River, Paterson, New Brunswick, Jersey City, Hackettstown, and Somerville our workers compensation attorneys and staff are committed to helping employees injured on the job, whether as a result of workplace accidents or occupational diseases. If you have been injured in a workplace accident it is important to have a lawyer review your claim to see that you are being treated fairly and to ensure that you receive full compensation for your injury claim. Please call 877-450-8301 or e-mail our office to arrange a free consultation.