If you have filed a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim and the insurance company has accepted it to be compensable, you are entitled to receive disability compensation if you lose wages at work due to your injury.
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act defines “disability” as the “incapacity because of injury to earn the wages which the employee was receiving at the time of injury in the same or any other employment.” If your wage-earning capacity has been reduced or completely extinguished due to your work injury, then you are owed disability benefits.
Workers’ compensation disability benefits are not considered taxable income by either the state of North Carolina or the federal government. As you can imagine, disability benefits are expensive for insurance companies.
They will take steps throughout your case to avoid paying disability benefits or stop the benefits you are receiving. If the insurance company is successfully able to stop your disability benefits, then it will be a long and uphill battle to get them restarted.
The board-certified North Carolina workers’ compensation specialists at Mehta & McConnell will advise you of your rights to disability compensation. We will fight to protect your disability benefits and increase the value of your claim.
Your Rights as an Injured Worker
Your average weekly wage at the time of injury will be used to calculate the amount of weekly disability compensation you are entitled to receive.
Attorneys use an Industrial Commission Form 22 and supporting wage records to calculate an injured worker’s average weekly wage. The employer is responsible for completing a Form 22 and producing supporting wage records.
Industrial Commission Rules give employers a strict deadline to produce Form 22 and wage records. Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys will help you calculate the amount of benefits you are owed in your case.
Types of Disability Compensation
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
You are entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits if you are completely out of work due to your compensable work injury. The insurance company must pay you temporary total disability benefits in the amount of 2/3 of your pre-injury average weekly wage.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission each year establishes a maximum weekly amount for temporary total disability benefits. An injured worker can receive up to 500 weeks of temporary total disability benefits.
After 425 weeks have passed since the date of first disability, an injured worker may make an application to the Industrial Commission to extend temporary total disability benefits beyond the 500-week limit.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
If you have returned to work after a compensable injury but are earning less than your pre-injury average weekly wage, you may be entitled to receive temporary partial disability benefits.
Your entitlement to temporary partial disability benefits is calculated by subtracting your post-injury average weekly wage from your pre-injury average weekly wage. You are entitled to receive 2/3 of the difference as temporary partial disability benefits.
Temporary partial disability benefits are often calculated on a weekly basis because your wages may fluctuate from week to week. You cannot receive weekly temporary partial disability benefits for an amount greater than the annual maximum weekly amount for disability benefits set by the Industrial Commission. You can receive temporary partial disability benefits for up to 500 weeks, subject to certain conditions.
Permanent and Total Disability Benefits
In cases involving catastrophic injuries, an injured worker may qualify for permanent total disability benefits. A permanently and totally disabled injured worker will be able to receive temporary total disability benefits for the remainder of their lifetime unless their employer can prove they are able to return to suitable employment.
A permanently and totally disabled worker is also entitled to receive medical treatment for their compensable injuries for the remainder of their lifetime.
Proving Your Claim for Disability Compensation
The injured worker has an ongoing burden of establishing entitlement to receive disability benefits. This can be a week-to-week burden in certain cases. Just because you were entitled to receive disability benefits in a previous week does not guarantee your entitlement to receive the same benefits in the future.
The rules for proving your claim for disability benefits are complex. The burden of proof can vary depending on the type of the injury, the posture of the case, and the type of benefits claimed.
As already mentioned, insurance companies do not like paying disability benefits. Insurance companies will often force injured workers to prove their entitlement to receive disability benefits. Experienced legal representation by a board-certified workers’ compensation specialist will enable you to maximize your recovery of disability benefits.
Contact Us Today
You don’t have to go through the hurdles of proving your disability claim alone. Let us see if we can help you increase the value of your North Carolina workers’ compensation claim.
Contact us for a free and confidential initial consultation with a board-certified workers’ compensation specialist.