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What is Permanent Partial Disability?

Posted in Arizona Injury Laws on January 11, 2023

Most individuals who sustain injuries at work are able to return to work relatively soon after the incident occurs. However, there are times when individuals sustain injuries and are partially disabled as a result. Sometimes, this partial disability is permanent. Here, we want to review what Arizona law says about permanent partial disability and recovering workers’ compensation benefits.

Permanent Partial Disability is Part of Workers’ Compensation Claims

For individuals to recover permanent partial (PP) disability benefits in Arizona, they must qualify under one of two types of injuries – scheduled and unscheduled. If an individual falls into the scheduled or unscheduled injury categories, they will receive monthly payments for the duration of the disability.

Scheduled Injuries

When we examine the information from the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA), we can see that a scheduled injury is an injury that occurs to a specific body part listed under the workers’ compensation law in Arizona. These schedules indicate the amounts to be paid for a specific impairment. Additionally, individuals who receive visible facial scarring or the loss of permanent teeth will also be considered to have a scheduled injury.

Scheduled injuries involve an arm, hand, foot, leg, or eye. If a person suffers the partial loss of a body part, the injured worker will typically receive half of their average monthly wages for a specific amount of time.

If a person sustains an amputated limb or the total loss of a body part, they could receive around 55% of their average monthly wage. However, if a person determines that the individual is unable to return to their normal job as a result of the injury, they could receive up to 75% of their average monthly wage.

Those who sustain permanent facial scarring or permanent tooth loss can receive up to 55% of their average monthly wage for up to 18 months.

The total amount of time a person receives compensation will depend on the injured area of their body. For example, if a person loses a digit, they can receive benefits for 15 months. Hearing loss typically entitles a person to 20 months’ worth of payments. Loss of vision in a single eye could see a person receive compensation for 25 months.

If a person loses the ability to use their dominant hand, they can receive payments for up to 50 months. If a person loses both hands, legs, arms, feet, or vision in both eyes, then they should be entitled to permanent total disability payments for the remainder of their lives.

Unscheduled Injuries

Unscheduled injuries are those not necessarily specifically listed on the injury schedule. This can include injuries that result in a general impairment, injuries to a combination of body parts injured in one incident, for those who have a history of other permanent impairments. When these types of injuries occur, the ICA will determine how much compensation the injured individuals should be entitled to. This determination will be made based on their loss of earning capacity.

Some types of injuries that could be considered unscheduled injuries could include those that affect the shoulder, back or hip. Additionally, occupational diseases that arise as a result of the workplace would also be considered unscheduled. Various factors, such as the likelihood the person will be able to return to work, along with their work history, education, and age, are also considered when it comes to payment decisions.

Compensation for an unscheduled injury is typically the difference between their previous wage and the wage they are able to currently earn in their present condition. However, if an unscheduled injury does result in a total disability, the individual will receive 66 and 2/3% of their former monthly wage. Permanent partial disability will earn the person approximately 55% of their previous monthly average wage.