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How Is Workers Comp Related to Partial Disability?

Home > Blog > How Is Workers Comp Related to Partial Disability?

When you wake up and go to work, you do not expect to get injured on the job. Yet, in  2020 alone over 29,000 workers were injured in the workplace in South Carolina. This injury can be painful, and dealing with the workers’ comp claim process can be strenuous. Your day-to-day life can quickly become stressful, and you may feel overwhelmed and all alone. For these reasons, you should focus on recovering and let the passionate workers’ comp attorneys with HawkLaw deal with all the necessary paperwork and handle the legal process for you.

What is Partial Disability in South Carolina?

Partial disability in South Carolina is a designated category utilized for calculating workers’ compensation claim benefits whenever an employee experiences a work-related injury or occupational disease.

More specifically, partial disability is defined as a disability in which the injured employee is not entirely disabled but is incapable of performing work at full capacity for a certain amount of time.

If you experience a partial disability from a work-related cause, your claim can fall into one of two distinct categories:

  •     Permanent partial disability benefits, or
  •     Temporary partial disability benefits

Depending on the types of injuries and the severity of your injury, you will be placed in one of these two categories, and this will be what determines the amount paid out as compensation benefits under workers’ compensation law.

What is the Difference Between Permanent and Temporary Disability in South Carolina?

Receiving a diagnosis of a permanent or temporary disability in South Carolina will be an important factor in determining what wage benefits you can receive under workers’ compensation law. Knowing these differences is crucial, and you can benefit from seeking legal advice from a workers’ compensation attorney to help determine what you are eligible for and the weekly limits as directed by South Carolina law.

Permanent Disability

Under workers’ compensation claims, permanent disability may be total or partial. The two are distinct and will factor into the amount of benefits you can receive and how long you will be eligible to receive those benefits.

When diagnosed with a permanent disability, workers’ comp coverage will continue over the long term. The calculation for what you will receive will depend on the type of injury suffered and whether or not you can continue working in at least a reduced role.

Specifically, under South Carolina Code 42-9-10, what constitutes a permanent total disability is quadriplegic, loss of vision in both eyes, paraplegic, and physical brain damage. These total permanent disability conditions are not subject to the weekly compensation limit and instead are awarded lifetime benefits.

Partial permanent disability, on the other hand, differs in that it is defined by the permanent loss of a body part or the loss of use of a part of the body. Examples that fall under partial permanent disability include the loss of a finger, toe, arm, leg, or eye. Loss of hearing also falls under partial permanent disability.

A benefit schedule is clearly laid out in South Carolina law when it comes to payouts of permanent partial disability benefits. If your work-related injury leads to the permanent loss of use of a part of your body, your benefits will follow this defined schedule.

Benefits will be distributed weekly, calculated at two-thirds the amount of your pre-jury wages. These weekly benefits will continue for a determined period of time-based on the body part affected or disabled and the extent to which loss is experienced. This loss will be presented in percentage form for calculations.

Examples of loss and the timeframe for receipt of benefits include:

  •     Loss of one thumb — payouts for 65 weeks
  •     Loss of a hand — payouts for 185 weeks
  •     Loss of an arm — payouts for 220 weeks
  •     Loss of a shoulder — payouts for 300 weeks
  •     Loss of a foot — payouts for 140 weeks
  •     Loss of a hip — payouts for 280 weeks
  •     Loss of a leg — payouts for 195 weeks
  •     Loss of an eye — payouts for 140 weeks
  •     Complete loss of hearing in one ear — payouts for 80 weeks

A full list of these permanent disabilities and their payouts can be found under South Carolina Code 42-9-30.

Temporary Disability

Under South Carolina Code 42-9-20, the employer will pay an injured party a certain amount of benefits for temporary disabilities.

More specifically, for those suffering partial disability that is temporary, wage benefits will be distributed weekly. The amount of these distributions will be calculated at two-thirds of the injured employee’s average weekly wage, and benefits will last for a maximum of 340 weeks. Not everyone will receive the entire 340 weeks, however.

A temporary partial disability is considered short-term, lasting only until an injured worker is able to return to work in a normal capacity.  In the meantime, the employee may be assigned light duty for a set period of time until they recover enough to return to that full capacity.

As such, if you recover from your work-related injury and return to work without restrictions before you reach the maximum payment schedule, the weekly benefits will cease, and you will be back to your pre-injury wage schedule.

How Do You Receive Partial Disability Benefits for Workers’ Comp?

To receive partial disability benefits for workers’ comp, you will first need to obtain an impairment rating from a medical professional.  If your work-related injury has resulted in a lasting disability, your doctor will determine to what extent.

Here is how the process works. The treating physician will assign the injured worker an impairment rating once that claimant has reached what is referred to as maximum medical improvement (MMI). The compensation rate, or award, will be based on that rating information.

For example, if the employee is assigned a permanent impairment rating upon reaching MMI, they will be entitled to a determined permanent partial disability award. In South Carolina, this award remains in place even if you return to the same job with no added restrictions.

How Long Can You Stay on Partial Disability in South Carolina?

How long you can stay on partial disability in South Carolina is an essential question to ask as you may rely on these weekly benefits to help you get through a challenging time.

According to South Carolina law, the limit for a claimant to receive partial disability payments in South Carolina is 340 weeks, and this will be based on a reduced earning capacity. (S.C. Code § 42-9-20)

Reduced earning capacity, simply put, is the difference between the amount of your pre-injury wages and what you are able to earn now.

It is purely an economic model used to calculate the amount of partial disability benefits an employee is entitled to in the state of South Carolina.

Under this method, maximum and minimum weekly benefit amounts will be the same for temporary disability and permanent disability based specifically on the income loss suffered.

As you can see, worker’s comp claims for partial disability can quickly become complicated. To help you receive the weekly benefits you deserve, you may want to consult with an attorney familiar with the South Carolina workers’ Compensation Act. Your attorney should also have experience working directly with the South Carolina workers’ compensation commission.

What are Other Workers’ Comp Benefits in South Carolina?

Other workers’ comp benefits paid out in South Carolina include medical expenses and death benefits.

Medical Expenses

Under workers’ compensation insurance benefits in South Carolina, payment is available to a claimant for all authorized medical care expenses relating to the work-related injury. These medical benefits include doctor visits, medical procedures, treatments, physical therapy, and any other services required for your care. In addition, if you have to travel more than ten miles to your medical treatment appointments round trip, you also may receive payment for mileage.

Death Benefits

If an employee dies immediately or within a set period of time due to a work-related injury or illness, South Carolina workers’ comp will pay out death benefits to the surviving dependents of that deceased employee for 500 weeks.

The total amount of this benefit will be the same as provided in a total disability case. However, it may be spread out among several surviving dependents.

In addition, workers’ comp in South Carolina will pay burial expenses for the deceased employee, all the way up to $12,000.

Do Not Let Your Workplace Injury Get Overlooked

Navigating the South Carolina workers’ compensation system and working with an insurance company can be challenging, but it is imperative that you do not allow your workplace injury to go overlooked. The experienced personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at HawkLaw will fight to obtain the benefits you deserve, including any partial disability benefits. Schedule a consultation with our firm today by calling 888-HAWK.LAW or through the online contact form on our website.

John D. Hawkins

Founder and CEO

John Hawkins is the Founder and CEO of HawkLaw He has been licensed to practice law in South Carolina since his graduation with honors in 1994 from the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was on the Law Review and Order of Wig and Robe.

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