What is a permanency rating and why is it important?
When your doctor releases you and states that you have reached maximum medical improvement, oftentimes, they will give you what is known as a permanency rating or permanent partial impairment (PPI) rating to the specific part or parts of your body that were injured. This is important, because under the workers’ compensation scheme state statute, each part of your body is assigned a particular number of weeks of compensation.
For instance, under North Carolina Law, an injury to the spine is assigned a maximum compensation of 300 weeks under the permanency rating. So if your doctor gave you for example, a permanency rating to the lumbar spine of 20%, that would equate to 20% of 300 weeks, or 60 weeks. You would then multiply 60 weeks by your compensation rate to equal the amount of money you would be entitled to for the permanent partial impairment portion of your claim. So if your comp checks were $350.00 per week, that would equal $21,000.00 in compensation for permanent impairment.
Please be aware that this is only one component of what you may be entitled to under the Act. Other issues, such as your permanent physical restrictions, age, and education, may make your rating almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. In other words, if you are really completely disabled from work, or suffer from severe restrictions or there are other factors such as your age and training that make it highly unlikely that you will find a job, then it doesn’t matter what your rating is.
In that instance, in that circumstance, you would be entitled to compensation for 500 weeks, or sometimes even the rest of your life. You could not get the PPI rating on top of those weeks.