This seems like a pretty simple question and it is. However, the answer is not so simple, because it depends upon a lot of different factors and possibilities. In this post, I will try to offer some general information on how long your wage loss benefits might last, by providing some basic guidelines.
Please understand that this is a basic summary of general Minnesota Worker’s Compensation principles and is not intended as legal advice or to cover all possible situations. Minnesota work comp laws have changed a great deal over the years and the benefits available to an injured worker are governed by the date of injury. Limitations and “caps” on benefits really began with drastic legislative changes in 1992 and again in 1995. For the purposes of this article, we are only addressing benefits for injuries which occurred after 1992. If you have an older injury claim, your best bet would be to contact an experienced work comp attorney who has been around for a few years.
Wage loss benefits available to injured Minnesota workers
There are three basic types of wage loss benefits available under Minnesota Worker’s Compensation. We have discussed them in some previous posts and they are:
Temporary Total Disability benefits (TTD) – These are benefits paid to someone who is off work completely because of a work injury.
Temporary Partial Disability benefits (TPD) – These are partial wage loss benefits paid to someone who is working after an injury,with physical restrictions, but earning less than on the date of injury.
Permanent Total Disability benefits (PTD) – These are benefits paid to someone who is off work completely because of a work injury and is permanently unemployable. (See this previous post for more information on Permanent Total Disability)
How long do Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits last?
To begin with, for any injury which occurred on or after October 1, 1995, you are limited to a maximum number of weeks of TTD benefits. If your injury occurred between 10/1/95 and 9/30/08, the maximum number of weeks of TTD you can receive is 104. The maximum was increased to 130 weeks for injuries occurring on or after 10/1/08. For injuries prior to 10/1/95, there are a variety of other laws and limitations which apply and which we won’t go into for the purposes of this post. There are exceptions to these maximums if you are in an approved retraining program.
Does that mean I am guaranteed 104 or 130 weeks of TTD?
No. Those are only the maximum number of weeks you can receive. Your TTD benefits may end long before 104 or 130 weeks if one of these things occurs (there are others, but these are the most common):
- You return to work, for any employer, at the wage you were earning when you were hurt. At that point, the benefits would and because you are no longer losing wages.
- You are released to work without any restrictions. This issue is the subject of many work comp disputes and hearings. A work comp judge must often decide whether you still have restrictions, based upon competing medical opinions from the insurance company’s doctor and yours. Unfortunately, if it is determined that you have no restrictions, your TTD benefits will end even if you are not back to work or your job is no longer available.
- You reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) +90 days. Maximum Medical Improvement means that you are not expected to make any additional or significant improvement, even if you are not completely recovered. Your TTD benefits will end 90 days after the insurance company serves you with notice of MMI, even if you are still not back to work and have permanent restrictions from your injury. Yes, this is as unfair as it sounds.
- You return to work but at a lower wage than what you were earning when you got hurt. At this point, assuming you still have restrictions from your injury, in most cases your benefits would be switched from Temporary Total to Temporary Partial (TPD) benefits.
How long do Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits last ?
For injuries occurring prior to October 1, 1992, there was no weekly limit on TPD benefits. However, anyone injured on or after October 1, 1992, is limited to a maximum of 225 weeks of TPD benefits.
Does that mean that I am guaranteed at least 225 weeks of TPD benefits?
No. Again, 225 weeks is the maximum you can receive, but not a guarantee. Your TPD benefits may end for one of these reasons (there are others, but these are the most common):
- You return to work, for any employer, at the wage you were earning when you were hurt. Just like with TTD, the benefits end because you are no longer losing wages.
- You are released to work without any restrictions. Again, this is the same issue which arises for TTD benefits, and is often the main issue in litigation. You must have restrictions from your work injury in order to receive wage loss benefits.
How long do Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits last?
Unfortunately, permanent does not really mean permanent – at least in Minnesota work comp. There have been a number of changes to PTD benefits over the years, but the most recent and significant relates to injuries occurring on or after October 1, 1995. For those injuries, there is now a retirement presumption at age 67. This means that the insurance company will stop paying your PTD benefits when you reach age 67 and force you to prove that you would not have retired at that age. This will require you to file a claim and try to persuade a work comp judge that you would not have retired at age 67. If you win your case, the insurance company will have to continue paying your PTD benefits beyond age 67.
I hope you have found this post helpful for general questions about how long your benefits might last or how they might end. There are many variables in every case that will affect the length of your benefits. If you have questions about any aspect of your Minnesota work comp claim, please feel free to contact me at Bradt Law Offices at any time. I am happy to speak with you about your claim or make an appointment for an absolutely free consultation in our Grand Rapids office or wherever it would be convenient for you.
As always, thank you for visiting our blog and please tell your friends that we are a source of good work comp information for workers injured in northern Minnesota and anywhere on the Iron Range.