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Section 34 - Temporary Total Disability

Massachusetts Section 34 Workers Compensation Benefits - Total Disability

One of the most common types of benefits that injured workers pursue is Section 34 Benefits for Total Incapacity. There are a few elements to these Workers Compensation benefits:

Total Injury

In order to qualify for Section 34 benefits, the injured worker must be disabled from all types of work. This is why the benefit is often called Total Disability. However, determining if a worker is unable to work can be difficult. That is because every worker is in a different spot not only with their injury, but also their personal background that allows them to qualify for certain jobs.

There are many things that go into how many and what kind of jobs are available to a particular person. Some of these factors include: education, work history, age, reading comprehension, math skills, and many other things. This is why a particular injury can be totally disabling for one person, but not for another.

As an example, consider a lawyer and a mechanic. A lawyer has graduated from college and law school and most likely works in a job that is mostly behind a desk. That means that a broken ankle or fractured wrist might not prevent him/her from being able to work. Even if that injury leaves permanent limitations, even a trial lawyer who is on his/her feet all day will be able to find some kind of job with whatever limitations he/she has.

On the other hand, a mechanic will be on his/her feet all day spinning wrenches. These types of jobs are impossible to do with a severe ankle injury. If that injury leads to a permanent limitation that requires the mechanic to sit down every hour, a mechanic job might not be available anymore. Even though the mechanic can theoretically do a desk job, he/she might have no transferable skills to make a desk job feasible.

60 % of the Average Weekly Wage

The amount of your Section 34 benefits will equal 60% of your Average Weekly Wage. This calculation will go back the 52 weeks before your injury and take an average of what you worked during that time. Obviously, this can be complicated in certain situations. For example, if you only worked 30 weeks out of the year, it’s sometimes appropriate for the calculation to only include those 30 weeks instead of the full 52 weeks.

There are also statutory minimums and maximums for this benefit. This prevents high income workers from getting a windfall when they’re injured while also protecting low income workers from becoming destitute because of a work injury.

Temporary Benefits

These benefits are only temporary. No matter how long your permanent injury lasts, you are eligible for this benefit for 156 weeks, or 3 years. However, after those 3 years are over, you might be eligible for Section 35 Benefits for Partial Disability or Section 34A Benefits for Permanent Total Disability.

Experienced Workers Compensation Lawyers

If you are Totally Disabled, even for a relatively short time, it can change your life. Time you used to spend with your family is now spent in a doctor’s offices, and even at 60% of your earnings, it’s often not enough.

At Marcotte Law Firm, our Workers Compensation Attorneys have decades of experience representing injured workers, and we know the Workers Compensation system inside and out.

If you’ve been hurt at work, call the Workers Compensation lawyers at Marcotte Law Firm for a free, no obligation consultation.

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