Most types of income benefits are capped at a certain number of weeks. You will receive income benefits until your condition improves or as determined by the schedule of permanent partial disability benefits for specific body parts. There is an exception to this rule. If your injury is determined to be “catastrophic,” Georgia workers’ compensation laws let you receive lifetime income benefits.
Requirements for Lifetime Income Replacement Benefits
In order to be approved for lifetime income benefits, there must be sufficient medical evidence to support the fact that you are catastrophically injured and cannot work. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Employee Handbook explains that to receive a catastrophic determination, the injury must prevent “the employee from being able to perform his or her prior work and any work available in substantial numbers within the national economy.”
Below are a few common examples of catastrophic injuries:
- Severe paralysis;
- Severe head or brain injuries;
- Severe burns; and
- Industrial blindness.
Calculating Lifetime Income Replacement Benefits
Within Georgia workers’ compensation laws, there is no mention of the term “lifetime income benefits.” Rather, these types of benefits are labeled as temporary total disability benefits (TTD)a misnomer because employees with catastrophic injuries can receive these benefits indefinitely if their conditions never improve.
If your authorized treating physician has deemed you unable to work, your weekly benefit amounts to two-thirds of the average weekly wage you made at the time of the injury. In most cases, your average weekly wage will be calculated by taking an average of the past 13 weeks of active employment. For instance, if you were making $600/week on average before your injury, your TTD check will amount to $400. The maximum amount of TTD allowable in Georgia is $525, as of July 1, 2013.
If your injury is not catastrophic, the maximum amount of time you can receive TTD is 400 weeks. If an injury is catastrophic, then O.C.G.A. § 34-9-261 stipulates that the injured worker will receive TTD “until such time as the employee undergoes a change in condition for the better.”
In addition to lifetime income benefits, if you were catastrophically injured on the job, you are also eligible for lifetime medical benefits and vocational rehabilitative services.
Consulting a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Atlanta
For questions about your workers’ comp case or for information about the types of benefits that might be available to you, call Bader Law Firm, LLC, today at 678-562-5595.