Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits 101

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What is permanent partial disability (PPD)?

Permanent partial disability benefit, or PPD, is a benefit in the Minnesota workers’ compensation system used to compensate an injured worker for the permanent impairment or the loss of use or function of a body part due to a work injury.

Who determines PPD?

Your treating physician or the independent medical examiner for the insurance company will issue a PPD rating under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act.

When is PPD determined?

Once an injured worker reaches “maximum medical improvement” or MMI as deemed by his or her treating physician, the physician will issue a PPD rating. MMI is the point at which the injured worker’s condition is not expected to dramatically improve or decline. MMI is generally determined when the injured worker has reached a plateau in his or her medical treatment.

Insurance companies or your attorney may send your treating a physician a “healthcare provider report” or HCPR. The healthcare provider will then issue a rating as applicable to your condition under the statute.

An insurer may also send you to an independent medical exam or IME. The IME doctor may then issue a PPD rating in his or her IME report. Or your attorney may ask your doctor to issue a rating when he or she sends your health care provider a narrative request wherein he or she may opine more extensively as to the nature and extent of your condition.

How are PPD ratings determined?

PPD ratings are determined based on the health care provider’s rating in addition to the date of injury.

For injuries before 1984, PPD ratings were issued to each body part and then multiplied by a specific number of weeks and the injured worker’s weekly compensation rate. If a worker injured more than one body part, the amount owed was increased by 15%. Insurers generally paid this benefit in a lump sum.

For injuries after 1984, PPD ratings are assigned as a percent of a disability to the body as a whole. The rules that govern the rating are referred to as the PPD schedule. The total percentage rating is multiplied by a specific dollar amount to determine the monetary benefits payable. Physicians refer to the PPD schedule under Minnesota Rules Parts 5223.0300 – 5223.0650 for injuries after July 1, 1993.

When is PPD paid?

PPD may be paid in a lump sum or may be paid out as a weekly benefit. If PPD is paid out in a lump sum the amount owed is reduced slightly by a present value calculation. PPD may be paid concurrently with temporary partial disability benefits and permanent total disability benefits but not with temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. Frequently, it is in the employee’s best interest to wait on pursuing a PPD rating until the employee has exhausted his or her temporary total disability benefits. An employee’s TTD benefits cease 90 days after being deemed to have reached MMI or maximum medical improvement and by definition if a physician issues a PPD rating the employee is determined to have reached MMI.

Why are PPD benefits so low?

Permanent partial disability is not meant to replace pain and suffering damages. PPD benefits are tied to the legislature’s interpretation of how an injured worker’s permanent impairment will affect his or her future ability to work. For example, if an employee completely loses his or her ability to taste or smell, under Minnesota Rules 5223.0360, Subpart 3 A and B, he or she is only entitled to a 1% rating or under the current schedule or $750 (.01 (x) $75,000).

Moreover, PPD benefits have not been adjusted for inflation in years, unlike many other work comp benefits in the State of Minnesota.

If you have questions about a PPD rating or believe that you have been underpaid by the insurance company, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. right away. Don’t wait to get an attorney involved if you have a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. The process can be complex and you want to be sure you receive the full benefits you are entitled. Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free no-obligation consultation and claim evaluation. At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we keep our clients informed of the process as well as what to expect each step of the way. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.