Section 35 - Temporary Partial Disability
Though certainly not as catastrophic as injuries that are totally disabled, injured workers with partial disabilities can still have significant hurdles to overcome. To a certain extent, this is because partial disability has a lot more grey area. Two injuries to the same person can have drastically different effects on their individual job prospects. At the same time, someone who is partially disabled might not have a job available at the old employer. So even though that worker can theoretically do a job, there might be no job available.
Even for those who are "partially" disabled, the Massachusetts Workers Compensation system has set up benefits so that these workers are not left behind. More importantly, all injured workers need an experienced Workers Compensation lawyer to guide them through the process.What is Partial Disability?
Section 35 of the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Law is meant for those who have some capacity to work. Injuries can limit people in a lot of ways yet still allow them to do some work. Some people can do the same job that they used to do, but only on a part-time schedule instead of full time. Other people can work a full time job, but at a limited capacity; instead of operating heavy machinery, an injured construction worker might be on desk duty while an injury heals.
One thing these situations have in common is that a worker is earning less every week due to a work injury. These are the situations Section 35, or Temporary Partial Disability, is meant to address.How Much Are the Benefits?
Section 35 benefits are based on how much you were making before the injury vs. how much you are making currently. Once those figures are calculated, you’re entitled to 60% of the difference. To do the calculation, you first need to determine your average weekly wage, which is based on your 52 weeks of earnings before you were injured. Then, you look at your paycheck every week, and the insurance company is supposed to pay you 60% of the difference. So if you made $1,000 per week before the injury and $600 afterwards, you’d then be entitled to $240 in Workers Compensation benefits.
There is one caveat. The most you can receive under Section 35 is 75% of what you would have received if you were Totally Disabled and entitled to Section 34 benefits. This means that a lot of calculations need to be done in certain circumstances, but a general rule of thumb is that if you’re partially disabled, the most you are entitled to is 45% of your Average Weekly Wage.How Long Can I Receive Benefits?
There are a lot of factors that go into how long these benefits are available.
- If you’ve received less than 2 years of Section 34 benefits, you’re entitled to up to 5 additional years of Section 35 benefits.
- If you’ve received between 2 and 3 years of Section 34 benefits, you’re entitled to up to a max of 7 years of combined Section 34 and Section 35 benefits.
- If you’ve received the full 3 years of Section 34 benefits, you’re entitled to up to 4 additional years of Section 35 benefits.
There are also additional benefits available to those who are Permanently Partially Disabled. This requires additional findings, including a permanency rating pursuant to the American Medical Association’s Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairments. But it can open Section 35 benefits up to a maximum of 10 years in certain circumstances.Tenacious Lowell Workers Compensation Lawyers
When a situation is not black and white, it leaves a lot of room for the insurance company and its attorney to cut your benefits. What many insurance company lawyers don’t understand is that not all workers are able to manage certain injuries. For example, a 55 year old plumber might have a “sedentary work capacity.” But with no similar type work history, that “partially disabled” worker is essentially totally disabled. An experienced Workers Compensation lawyer can recognize the situation and ensure that the injured worker gets the benefits he or she deserves.
You need an experienced and tenacious Lowell Workers Compensation Lawyer that can make sure you get the benefits you deserve so that you can let your injuries heal. At Marcotte Law Firm, our attorneys understand that a full recovery is in everyone’s best interest. While getting back to work is everyone’s goal, trying too soon can end up being one step forward and two steps back.
If you’ve been hurt at work, call the Lowell Workers Compensation Attorneys at Marcotte Law Firm for a free consultation. There’s no fee unless you get your benefits.