When it comes to workers compensation benefits, there are two significant kinds: temporary total disability and temporary partial disability. You may have heard both of these terms if you find yourself injured at work. You might also wonder, "Just what exactly do these terms mean, and what is the difference between the two?"
Temporary Total Disability
- Temporary total disability is when you are temporarily out of work altogether. In other words, you cannot work because of your injury. However, the expectation is that you will improve and eventually return to work. This is not a permanent disability.
- If you qualify for temporary total disability, you will be paid 2/3 of your average weekly wage. If you make $360 a week, you will be compensated approximately $238 a week — pretty straightforward.
Temporary Partial Disability
- Temporary partial disability is when you cannot work your regular job due to your work injury, but you can do some work. Because you are not working your old job, chances are the pay will be lowered to match the work you are doing.
- When you're on temporary partial disability, you will be paid at the rate of 2/3 of the difference between what you made at your old job and what you can make at your new job. For example, if you made $360 a week at your old job and $200 a week at your new job, you would be compensated approximately $106 from your temporary partial disability benefits — meaning your weekly total would now be roughly $306 a week.
What should you do when you have either Temporary Total Disability or Temporary Partial Disability?
Your doctor may recommend you take a leave of absence from work. If this is necessary, you should notify your employer in writing.
Once you're cleared to return to work, contact your supervisor and request a light-duty assignment. Again, your employer may offer you a different type of position than the one you had before being injured.
Unfortunately, your employer can have you perform whatever job they've created for you (e.g., something as menial as counting paper clips or sitting in a chair) until you recover and can work at your regular rate. We refer to these as "make-work jobs." If you refuse to do this job, you are giving up your right to weekly disability checks and medical benefits.
Sometimes an employer will find a reason to fire you while receiving temporary partial disability benefits. Unfortunately, in the state of North Carolina, there is no law against firing you while you are on disability benefits, just so long as your employer cites another reason for your termination. Your checks will continue if you are fired while receiving temporary total disability.
When applying for temporary disability benefits, you need to document your inability to work. Include information about the date and nature of your injury, your medical treatment, and dates when you were out of work and receiving benefits.
Documenting these events helps prove that you couldn't work during the period you applied for benefits. Also, include copies of bills showing the cost of your medical care.
Don't forget to submit proof of your earnings history. You should list your pay stubs and W2 forms if you worked full-time. If you worked part-time, you should include copies of your paycheck stubs and tax records.