Three Workers' Comp Terms You Should Understand

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While making your way through the workers' comp system, you will come across a variety of industry terms (typically written as acronyms) describing various aspects of your case. To better understand how your case is progressing, what the agency may need from you to process your claim, and improve your ability to communicate with the agents, here are three workers' comp terms you should have a good grasp of.

Maximum Medical Improvement

This term describes the point where your condition has reached the maximum level of improvement, where no amount of additional treatment is going to make you any better than you are at that time. For instance, you were only able to regain 65 percent use of your arm after months of physical therapy. The doctor will write in his or her report that this is the maximum medical improvement for your condition and that you're unlikely to regain 100 percent use of your arm even with additional therapy.

Once you have reached this level, the doctor will evaluate you to determine if you are permanently disabled. This is a critical examination, because this will help workers' comp decide if you are eligible for long-term disability benefits.

Impairment Rating

If the doctor decides you have suffered a permanent disability, then he or she will rate how disabled you are on a percentage scale. For instance, if you lost most of the mobility in your shoulder, the doctor may give you an impairment rating of 75 percent.

The doctor will rate each body part and submit the information to workers comp who, depending on where you live, may use the data to give you an overall impairment rating. This rating is then used to determine how much to pay you and/or for how long. For example, you may be eligible for 30 weeks of wage payments in California if you suffer an 8 percent knee impairment.

Functional Capacity Evaluation

A third term you're likely to come across is the functional capacity evaluation, which describes a slew of tasks you'll be asked to perform to determine whether you can still perform your job duties. For instance, you may be asked to reach, bend, and hold a certain amount of weight in your arms.

This evaluation is used to decide if you are able to return to work and in what capacity. If the testing shows you cannot perform your work duties, you may be designated as permanently disabled and compensated accordingly.

For an explanation of other terms you may come across or help with your workers comp case, contact an attorney's office, like Prediletto, Halpin, Scharnikow & Nelson, P.S.