If PERA awards a police officer, firefighter, or deputy sheriff permanent total disability (PTD) benefits then he or she IS still entitled to permanent total disability benefits under Minnesota worker’s compensation. Permanent total disability benefits in workers’ compensation are benefits payable to injured workers who are unable to return to gainful employment. PTD is calculated using an injured worker’s average weekly wage (AWW) and is multiplied by 2/3 for a compensation rate under Minnesota Statute §176.011, subdivision 18. This amount is capped at the same limit as temporary total disability (TTD) and is subject to cost of living adjustments over time. PERA disability benefits and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits are also increased on a very limited basis over time. In many cases, employees must reach a certain rating of permanent partial disability (PPD) before he or she is awarded PTD benefits or deemed to have reached PTD. These ratings take into account all permanent conditions, work related or not, that affect the employee’s ability to work.
PTD benefits are offset by certain types of disability benefits, such as social security disability benefits and PERA PTD benefits; however, workers’ compensation PTD benefits in Minnesota are not offset until the employer and insurer have paid $25,000 in PTD benefits under Minnesota Statute §176.101, subdivision 4. Notably, benefits are only offset if the SSDI benefits and work comp benefits are based on the same injuries.
Frequently, if a PERA member is receiving PERA permanent total disability benefits and is deemed PTD by workers’ compensation, after reaching the $25,000 threshold work comp does not owe the injured worker anything until the injured worker’s PERA PTD benefits convert into a retirement benefit. Typically, the PTD PERA benefits completely offset the work comp PTD benefits. Many PERA members will also not receive SSDI benefits as he or she has paid into PERA instead of SSDI. However, those who are entitled to social security disability will have those benefits offset by work comp as well.
PERA PTD benefits convert to retirement benefits on the member’s normal retirement age, which for members covered under the Minnesota Police and Fire Plan is 55 years old. Under the recent Minnesota Supreme Court case Gary Ekdahl v. Independent School District #213, once these benefits convert, then the work comp insurer is no longer allowed an offset for PTD benefits.
Typically, an injured worker who is awarded PERA PTD benefits and is deemed PTD by work comp, is entitled to:
1. The first $25,000 of work comp PTD benefits
2. Permanent partial disability benefits for loss of use or function of a body part
3. Medical mileage
The employee is also entitled to medical care and treatment that is both reasonable and necessary and designed to cure or relieve the effects of the injury. After being awarded PERA duty PTD benefits, the police officer, firefighter, or Deputy Sheriff is also entitled to Healthcare Continuation Benefits under Minnesota Statute §299A.465 provided by the employer as if the member was still an employee. This healthcare continuation, which includes family health care coverage, extends until the member reaches age 65.
Educate yourself about your rights under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation system, PERA Duty Disability claims, as well as healthcare continuation claims. You may recover more benefits overall by applying for PERA Duty Disability rather than PERA PTD. It may not be in your best interest to be deemed PTD by Minnesota work comp until after your PERA disability benefit converts to a retirement benefit. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle Minnesota workers’ compensation cases on a daily basis and are very familiar with the most current laws and calculations to determine your average wage. We will ensure you receive the full benefits you are entitled. Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free, no-obligation workers’ compensation case consultation. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.