Pennsylvania provides various types of workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers, primarily in the form of medical expenses and lost wages. It also provides specific-loss benefits which compensate an injured worker when she loses the use of a body part for “all practice, intents and purposes.” Benefits for a “specific loss: may be paid even if the injured worker has not missed any time from work.
What does “loss of use” of a certain body part “for all practical intents and purposes” mean? That the loss is more severe than one that would allow the injured worker to use the injured body part on the job. However, this does not mean that the body part is useless for all functions and use. Whether a worker has suffered “loss of use” under the Workers’ Compensation Act is a question of fact decided by a Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ).
The schedules contained in the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Act”) list the benefits paid for a permanent loss or loss of use of limbs or functions of the body.
Each specific loss is allocated a defined number of weeks for which the injured worker may receive benefits whether or not out of work. The worker receives a benefit of 2/3 of his wage prior to the injury for this time period. This award is paid in addition to payments of temporary total disability (TT) and not reduced by any of the amount of TT paid. The injured worker receives specific loss benefits when TT benefits end.
Disfigurement benefits are paid for serious and permanent disfigurement of head, face, or neck and are paid for a maximum period of 275 weeks. Again, the worker receives a benefit of 2/3 of his wage prior to the injury.
A worker who qualifies for specific loss benefits may also receive healing period benefits, which are additional weeks of compensation paid until either the worker returns to work without an impaired earnings capacity or the scheduled amount has been paid, whichever comes first.
For example, benefits for the loss of function of a hand qualifies a worker for 335 weeks of specific-loss benefits and 20 weeks of healing period benefits. However, healing period benefits may be reduced for wages received during the healing period. Specific loss benefits begin when healing period benefits end.
Proving eligibility for specific-loss benefits generally requires the guidance and assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Since 1906, our practice has evolved litigating all types of workers’ compensation claims and cases and building a body of knowledge and expertise that clearly provides our clients with a unique, distinct and incomparable advantage. Powell Law has an established 113-year-old reputation throughout northeastern Pennsylvania. Contact Powell Law at call (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE.