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Disability Benefits

Work-related injuries often may result in some partial or total loss of function that prevents you from working — maybe for the rest of your life. When you’re injured on the job, the Illinois Workers Compensation Act, 820 ILCS 305, provides for payment of benefits designed to make you whole when you can no longer earn the full income you received before your injury.

Disability benefits in Illinois break down into the following four types.

Temporary Partial Disability

If you can’t perform the full functions of your job, but can work light duty earning less than you would be making doing your regular job, you may be eligible for temporary partial disability benefits. Temporary partial disability benefits are two-thirds of the difference between what you would be earning before your injury and what you earn doing the light-duty job.

Temporary Total Disability

You can collect temporary total disability benefits when your doctor says you will be unable to work temporarily, but will be able to return to work at some time in the future. You also may be able to get temporary total disability benefits when your doctor clears you for light duty, but your employer can’t accommodate you.

Temporary total disability pays you two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to minimum and maximum thresholds. The benefit is paid until you either return to work or recover from your injury as much as it is possible to recover, a point known as maximum medical improvement.

Your employer or your employer’s workers compensation insurance should start paying temporary total disability benefits within 14 days after you give notice of your injury. You’re supposed to get paid on the same schedule you’d receive a paycheck, so if you got a weekly paycheck your disability benefits also should come weekly.

Permanent Partial Disability

Permanent partial disability benefits are paid when you suffer the loss of a body part or loss of use of a body part, or partial use of your body overall. For example, the loss of a finger in a punch press accident might qualify you for partial permanent disability. Generally speaking, the loss has to prevent you from performing some tasks you could do before you were injured.

There are four different scenarios for partial permanent disability benefits.

  • You get a lower-paying job — In this instance, you may be able to collect benefits of two-thirds of the difference between your previous wages and the wages you’re now earning after your injury.
  • You suffer a scheduled injury — Scheduled injuries are ones for which the Workers Compensation Act has assigned a value. The amount you can collect is prorated based on how much function you lost in the body part. If a body part is amputated or you lose 100 percent of the use of the body part, you can collect the full value of the injury. If you have partial use of a body part, your permanent partial disability payment is reduced.
  • You suffer a non-scheduled injury — If your injury is not listed on the schedule that assigns specific values, you may be able to receive a partial permanent disability benefit that is prorated based on the percentage of your overall loss of function.
  • You are disfigured — You may be able to receive compensation for disfiguring injuries to your head, face, neck, upper chest, arm, hand, or lower leg may be compensated. This benefit cannot be combined with a benefit for partial or total loss of use of the disfigured body part.

Permanent Total Disability

When you completely lose the use of both hands, both feet, both arms, both legs, both eyes, or any combination of two of those parts such as one hand and one foot, or you are permanently unable to work in any kind of reasonably stable job, you may be able to collect permanent total disability benefits. These benefits typically are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to minimum and maximum thresholds, for life.

How a Lawyer Can Help

The formulas used to calculate disability and payment of benefits can be very complicated. When you hire an experienced Chicago workers comp attorney, your lawyer can be a strong voice on your behalf to make sure that your level of disability is accurately calculated and that you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled.