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Does permanent disability mean endless benefits?

Workers' compensation is a valuable benefit every worker in New York should be familiar with. It ensures that individuals injured on the job have the availability of financial payment while they are losing time from work due to the injury, as well as necessary medical treatment.

The best-case scenario after a work injury is that the worker recovers to a point where he or she can return to work. But sometimes the injury leaves the worker permanently disabled. That permanent disability could be to a partial degree, or a total degree.

Permanent disabilities typically fall into two categories:

Scheduled Loss of Use: This occurs when the worker loses some extremity -- an arm, leg, hand, foot, finger or toe. Loss of hearing and eyesight also fall into this category.

Non-Schedule: These typically include injuries to the head, spine, nerves, lungs, heart or brain.

Limitless benefits are a thing of the past

There was a time in New York when a determination of permanent non-schedulable disability meant benefit eligibility without a time limit. That is no longer the law. Under the law now, while a permanent total disability still means benefit eligibility without a time limit, a permanent partial disability only allows for benefit eligibility for a certain number of weeks and those weeks are capped. Under the new law, maximizing eligible benefits requires the advice of knowledgeable legal counsel.

Under the new law, despite the use of the word “permanent,” entitlement to benefits is not for a limitless amount of time. Claimants who successfully obtain permanent partial benefits do so for a maximum number of weeks. The longest period by statute is 525 weeks, and the period decreases depending on the worker’s level of disability.

Considering the importance of these benefits and the complexity of the system for delivering them, it makes sense for anyone who is injured to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

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