Wage Loss Benefits
Wage loss benefits are cash payments that compensate you for lost time from work as well as for any permanent loss caused by the work injury. In Iowa there is a three day waiting period before benefits begin. If you are off work more than 14 days, you are entitled to payment of wages for the initial three days. Weekly benefits are generally calculated as 80% of your spendable earnings. Spendable earnings is the amount left after the deduction of payroll taxes. The weekly benefit is subject to a maximum and minimum. Wage loss benefits come in two varieties: Temporary and Permanent.
Temporary benefits may be total or partial. Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are paid after your injury until you return to work or placed at maximum medical recovery. Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits are paid when you have returned to work but in a reduced capacity such that your earnings are not what they were before your accident. In this situation you are entitled to 66 2/3% of the difference between your pre-injury gross weekly earnings and your post-injury actual earning.
Permanent benefits also come in two varieties: (1) Scheduled member disability and (2) Body as a whole disability. Whether your disability is to a scheduled member or is a body as a whole injury depends on what part of your body was injured. Scheduled members are parts of the body such as arms, legs, fingers, etc. An injury to a scheduled member is compensated based on the functional impairment to the scheduled member. The functional impairment, expressed as a percentage is applied to a number of weeks as set out in statute in order to determine your total entitlement.
A body as a whole injury is an injury to a part of the body that is not a scheduled member. Typically this includes injuries to the back, neck, head, shoulder, hip, and also includes mental injuries such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Iowa is unique in that the law allows for compensation for mental injuries without any physical injury. Body as a whole injuries are different from scheduled member injuries in that compensation for a body as a whole injury is based on loss of earning capacity. Expressed a percentage, the loss of earning capacity is multiplied by the statutorily set 500 weeks to determine your entitlement to benefits.
A number of factors are considered in determining your loss of earning capacity as a result of a work injury. It is essential that you consult an experienced attorney to help you maximize your recovery for these kinds of injuries.
In cases where you have injured multiple scheduled members or you have sustained an injury to the body as a whole, you may be entitled to Permanent total disability (PTD). Permanent total disability means that you receive your workers’ compensation weekly benefit for so long as the permanent disability remains – this could be for the rest of your life.
Sometimes, an injury may appear to be limited to a scheduled member but in reality the injury extends in to the body as a whole. The potential difference in compensation is very large and it is unlikely the workers’ compensation insurance carrier will voluntarily pay compensation based on a body as whole designation. Furthermore, determining whether the injury extends in to the body as a whole is complicated and requires knowledge of the law as well as knowledge of the underlying medical condition. In these cases it is imperative that you contact an attorney to discuss your case.