Workers’ Compensation Attorney Pedro Morales Answers Frequently Asked Work Comp Questions
1) What is AWW?
AWW is a term commonly used in Workers’ Compensation. It stands for “Average Weekly Wage.” Your work injury wage loss compensation will be based on your AWW. Your average weekly wage is an average of your wages during the 13-week period preceding your accident. If you have worked for that employer less than 13 weeks, the employer must provide wages from another employee that is employed in a similar position to calculate your AWW.
2) Can income from my second job be used to calculate my AWW?
Yes. Income from a second job should be used to calculate your AWW in order to ensure that you receive the full wage loss benefits that you are entitled to.
3) What is “Maximum Medical Improvement” (MMI)?
Maximum Medical Improvement is another commonly used term in the Workers’ Compensation system. This term will be used by your authorized treating physician when they believe you have fully healed from your work injury, or when your condition is not expected to improve any further. Being placed at “MMI” does not mean that you have fully recovered and are back to the way you were before your work injury. But being placed at Maximum Medical Improvement does mean that your entitlement to temporary wage loss benefits will end.
Being placed at MMI sometimes creates some confusion for injured workers. Some injured workers are made to believe that when they reach MMI the Workers’ Compensation claim is closed and that they no longer have a case. That is incorrect. Even after being placed at MMI by the doctor, the Workers’ Compensation case remains open and you continue to be entitled to see the doctor for any and all care and treatment related to your injury. After being placed at MMI you also remain eligible to receive permanent wage loss benefits if you are found to be permanently and totally disabled as a result of your work injury.
4) What is an impairment rating?
The impairment rating is determined by your authorized treating physician. This is used to rate the severity of your injury once you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement. You are entitled to receive impairment benefits (IBs) once you are given a rating by your authorized treating physician. These benefits are paid bi-weekly at a rate to 75% of your compensation rate (the compensation rate is 66 and 2/3 of your average weekly wage).
The duration of these benefits depends on the impairment rating assigned by the doctor. For each percentage point of impairment from 1% up to 10%, two weeks of benefits are to be paid. For each percentage point from 11% up to 15%, three weeks of benefits are to be paid. For each percentage point from 15% up to 20%, four weeks of benefits are to be paid. For each percentage point over 21%, six weeks of benefits are to be paid.
5) Can I get job retraining if I am injured on the job?
You are entitled to job retraining through the State of Florida once you have been placed at an MMI and you have a High School Diploma or GED. If you are accepted into the state’s vocational retraining program, you may be entitled to an additional 26 weeks of wage loss benefits from the Workers’ Compensation carrier.
6) Can I receive Social Security benefits and Workers’ Compensation benefits at the same time?
Yes. However, a reduction in your Workers’ Compensation check may be applied because the law states that you cannot receive more than 80% of what you were earning prior to your injury.
7) Can I receive unemployment benefits at the same time I am receiving Workers’ Compensation wage loss benefits?
If you are receiving Temporary Total or Permanent Total Disability benefits through Workers’ Compensation then you cannot receive unemployment benefits at the same time. Please remember that in order to qualify for unemployment benefits you must be ready, willing and able to work.
8) What is Permanent Total Disability (PTD)?
To be entitled to Permanent Total Disability benefits you must not be physically capable of engaging in at least sedentary work. You have to establish that you are not able to engage in at least sedentary employment within a 50 miles radius of your residence due to your work injury.
If you are determined to be permanently and totally disabled, the carrier is then responsible to pay you 2/3 of your average weekly wage until your disability ends or you reach the age of 75.
9) Death Benefits
If death results from a work-related accident the carrier is required to pay death benefits. The carrier must pay for funeral expenses not to exceed $7,500.00. In addition, the carrier is responsible for paying the deceased worker’s dependents up to 2/3 of the worker’s average weekly wage, and for schooling expenses for the surviving spouse. Unfortunately, there is a cap on the death benefits. The total combined maximum the carrier will be required to pay the family for the death of a worker is $150,000.00.
If you have a work comp question, are having difficulty receiving your benefits, or if your work comp claim has been denied, contact a Lakeland workers’ compensation attorney who fights to obtain the benefits injured workers deserve. Call 1-888-BURNETTI for additional information.
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