The workers’ compensation systems in many states entitle an injured worker to Temporary Partial Disability Benefits. These are wage loss benefits are paid to an injured worker when they are able to do some work but are still earning less money than they did before their work-related injury. These benefits are based on the money the worker is able to earn after his or her injury when compared to their average weekly wage before their injury.
The term “Temporary Partial Disability Benefits” is not contained in the New Jersey workers’ compensation statute, nor is it formally used in the state. However, the Division of Workers’ Compensation reads the New Jersey statute to entitle an injured worker to benefits that compare to temporary partial disability benefits in other states.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits in New Jersey
In New Jersey, your average weekly wage is what is used to determine the full wage loss benefits (Temporary Disability Benefits) you are entitled to receive when you are completely out of work because of your injury.
Your weekly temporary disability benefit is 70% of your average weekly wage at the time of your injury, not to exceed or fall below the statutory maximum and minimum rates established annually by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.
Therefore, if you are injured and not able to return to work and your average weekly wage at the time of injury was $500, you would be entitled to $350 per week in temporary disability benefits.
If you are able to work after your injury, but earning less money than before your injury, you are entitled to receive a “partial’ temporary disability benefit that amounts to the difference between what you earn after returning to work and the amount that you would have received if totally disabled.
For example, if you return to work after your injury, but are only able to earn $200 per week, but your average weekly wage at the time of your injury was $500 per week, workers’ compensation will pay you $150 per week to make your total earnings $350 per week (70% of your pre-injury wages).
When Will a Worker Most Often Be eligible For Temporary Partial Disability Benefits?
Often, when the treating physician releases you to return to work on light duty, you won’t earn as much as you did before you got hurt. You may have to work in a different position that pays you less per hour.
Alternatively, you might not be able to work as many hours per week, so that you earn less, even though you are being paid the same rate per hour. Either way, you should receive partial, temporary disability benefits to compensate for your loss in earnings.
Another typical situation in which you should receive partial, temporary disability benefits is when you’re back to work on light duty but you are still receiving medical treatment which causes you to miss time from work.
This often happens when your injury requires you to undergo physical therapy––you have returned to work on light duty but you have to miss time from work to receive therapy and therefore log fewer hours at work and earn less money.
Unfortunately, temporary disability benefits are the very benefits that insurance companies, most often, do not pay to an injured worker when they should. Workers often go months, or even years, earning less money than before they were injured, while not receiving partial, temporary disability benefits to compensate for their loss in earnings.
Contact An Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney For Help
If you are back to work on light duty, earning less money than before your injury, and not automatically receiving temporary partial disability benefits, you need to determine if you are eligible for these benefits. For help with this and any other New Jersey workers’ compensation issue, contact an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney for a free consultation.