man in wheelchairThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing workplace injuries that result in permanent disability claims in Peoria, Illinois. My previous article discussed the process for filing such a claim through the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC). It is imperative to report a workplace injury to your employer as soon as possible to ensure that accurate records of the incident are retained. It is also important to file your claim within the allotted time limit and in compliance with the IWCC requirements to preserve your right to receive benefits. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you navigate the process. In this post, I will review the ongoing benefits and eligibility requirements for individuals who have been permanently disabled. If you need assistance, contact my office to schedule a consultation with an attorney.

Under Illinois law, permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are generally paid for life. A claimant who is determined to have suffered a PTD will be entitled to receive 66 ⅔% of their average weekly wage, subject to certain minimum and maximum limits. The amount is adjusted periodically to reflect a cost-of-living increase. Claimants may also receive Social Security benefits if they are eligible under that program, however, the amount will be subject to a formula taking the PTD benefits into account that may result in a reduction of Social Security benefits.

PTD awards may be terminated or modified, however, under certain circumstances. If a person returns to work or becomes able to do so in the future and earns or can earn as much as they did prior to their injury, benefits may be terminated. If they can return to work but are only able to earn a portion of their pre-injury income, their award may be reduced using the formulas in place for permanent partial disabilities (PPD).

Ongoing benefits for claimants who have suffered a PPD may be handled differently than PTD benefits depending upon their award structure. PPD claimants may receive wage differential payments, using a formula based upon the difference between pre-injury and post-injury earnings. If the injury occurred prior to September 1, 2011, such payments will continue for life. If after, then the payments will continue for the longer of five years after the award or until the person reaches age 67. Other PPD claimants may receive awards based upon the IWCC’s schedule of injuries, which sets a specific value on each injured body part expressed as a number of weeks of compensation for each part. Such awards are payable for the duration of the designated number of weeks. Similar to PTD benefits, if the employee’s physical condition changes after the award is finalized, either party may seek an adjustment in benefits from the Commission. For instance, if the claimant’s condition improves and they regain the ability to work or earn additional income, the employer may seek a decrease in benefits. If their condition worsens in connection with the original injury and their earning capacity or ability to work is further reduced, the employee may ask the Commission to reevaluate and increase their benefits.

If you are facing a loss or reduction in your permanent disability benefits, it is imperative to contact a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Contact our Peoria office today to schedule an appointment with a lawyer. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.