PA Workers Compensation: Total vs. Partial Disability

By Kevin J. McGarrey, Esq.



You’ve been injured at work and your injury has been “picked up” by your employer’s workers compensation insurance company.  How much benefit you’ll receive depends on a number of factors.  One factor is if you are “totally” disable or “partially” disabled. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry defines “total disability status” as follows:

Total Disability Benefits Status

Applies to injured workers for a period during which they are considered totally disabled and unable to work. After 104 weeks of such status, the employer/insurer can require a medical examination to determine if the employee is at least 50% impaired based upon his/her work injury according to American Medical Association standards. If the 50% threshold is not met, the employee’s status can change to partial disability.

Further, PaDLI defines “partial disability status” as:

Partial Disability Benefits Status

This benefit status is for a maximum of 500 weeks. If, while on partial disability status, you obtain a qualified impairment rating physician’s determination of impairment which is equal to or greater than 50%, you may file a Petition for Reinstatement of total disability status.

Partial disability of up to 500 weeks of benefits are paid if you can return to work at a lower paying job within work-related restrictions or you are found not totally disabled.

The important thing to remember is that your employer’s insurance company is always looking to “get off the hook” of paying your compensation benefits.  As such, they will try every which way to make the claim that you are not totally disabled, even if you are!

Should you receive any type of notice from your employer’s workers compensation insurance company claiming that there has been a change in your benefit status, contact your attorney immediately.  If you do not have an attorney it is advisable to retain one as the insurance company will have a highly trained attorney fighting against you.

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