If you or a loved one have been injured in a workplace accident, receiving Virginia workers’ compensation benefits, especially wage loss benefits, is critical for your recovery because it allows you to focus on your health rather than stress over your income. Below, we discuss one form of Virginia wage loss benefits: temporary total disability benefits.
What Are Temporary Total Disability Benefits?
Temporary total disability benefits (TTD) are a form of wage loss replacement benefit in Virginia, whereby an employee receives wage loss replacement when they are unable to return to work because of a workplace injury or occupational disease.
TTD benefits are different than temporary partial disability benefits (TPD), which is a wage loss benefit available to an injured worker who returns to work with work restrictions and is making a lower wage—TPD benefits make up the difference between the new lower wages and the pre-injury wages.
TTD benefits also differ from permanent partial disability (injuries such as amputation, loss of use of a body part, disfigurement, or hearing or vision loss) and permanent total disability (injuries so severe you are permanently unable to work) benefits. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission cannot determine eligibility for permanent benefits until an injured employee has reached maximum medical improvement and their condition is not expected to improve significantly.
Qualifying For TTD Benefits
To qualify for TTD benefits, you must first establish that you suffered a workplace injury. In addition, your treating physician must determine that your injuries prevent you from returning to work, and they must provide documentation specifically stating the same.
If your physician concludes you can return to work with restrictions or light-duty work, and you are under an open Award Order, you may also qualify for TTD benefits. If you are not under an open Award Order and your physician determines you can return to work with restrictions, you are required to look for work to receive TTD benefits. This search for work is called “marketing your residual work capacity.” Generally, receiving TTD benefits while on light duty restrictions is more difficult than seeking benefits if you cannot return to work at all, and it typically takes longer to be paid these benefits because the insurance company will often wait for a decision from the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission that you complied with the Commission’s marketing guidelines.
Calculating TTD Benefits
If you qualify for temporary total disability benefits, you may be entitled to receive two-thirds (66 2/3 percent) of your wages based on your earnings for the 52 weeks prior to your injury (known as your pre-injury average weekly wage), subject to statewide maximum and minimum reimbursement amounts.
Your pre-injury average weekly wage is calculated by considering your regular wage, as well as bonuses, commissions, and other fringe benefits. If you worked multiple jobs at the time of the accident or did not work for the employer for a full 52 weeks before the injury, alternate methods may be used to calculate your average weekly wage.
TTD benefits do not provide complete compensation for all lost wages and employees with higher wages may receive less than two-thirds of their wages because of limitations on reimbursement amounts. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission establishes annual minimum and maximum compensation rates, which are revised annually. Effective July 1, 2019, the maximum compensation rate is $1,102 and the minimum compensation rate is $275.50. Effective October 1, 2019, the cost of living adjustment rate is 1.85 percent.
Keep in mind that wage loss compensation is not provided for the first seven calendar days of incapacity, but if an employee’s incapacity extends beyond that time, they will receive compensation beginning the eighth day of disability. If an employee is unable to work for more than 21 days, they will be compensated for the first seven days they were out of work.
Time Limits for Benefits
In many cases, an injured employee can receive temporary total disability benefits for up to 500 weeks. However, some people may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance or other long-term disability benefits, so it is critical to enlist the help of a skilled Virginia workers’ compensation attorney at the outset of your case to ensure you are maximizing your compensation.
If you have been injured in a workplace accident or fallen ill due to an occupational illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including temporary total disability benefits. Because TTD benefits do not compensate you for your total lost income, it is critical that you engage the help of an experienced Virginia workers’ comp attorney to evaluate your case and ensure that you maximize your benefit opportunities. The skilled attorneys at Renfro & Renfro have helped countless injured workers successfully navigate the claims and hearings process and obtain Virginia workers’ compensation benefits. Contact us today for a free consultation.