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What is a disability rating schedule under workers’ compensation?

There are four types of disability under the workers’ compensation system.

If you are an injured employee, when will you receive a disability rating and how will it affect your return to work?

About disability rating

If you sustain a work-related injury, you likely qualify to receive workers’ compensation benefits. As part of the medical care you receive, a doctor will assign a disability rating. The rating represents a percentage of the total body value of the body part you injured. The percentage is an estimate of the impact of the injury on your ability to carry out day-to-day activities aside from the work you do for your employer.

Disability or impairment

In determining a disability rating, there is a difference between a disability and an impairment. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), an impairment is a change in the patient’s health or normal bodily functions. Most workers’ compensation programs define disability as a reduction in earning ability due to a work-related injury or condition.

Types of disability

The four types of disability include:

  • Temporary total disability: The injured employee usually does not receive workers’ compensation benefits and returns to work
  • Temporary partial disability: The injured employee receives temporary benefits if he or she cannot return to work in a full capacity and must do work that is less demanding.
  • Permanent partial disability: The employee can return to work despite having an ongoing impairment and receives permanent partial disability payments
  • Permanent total disability: An injured worker who can never return to work qualifies for permanent total disability benefits

Rating assignment

The state of California has its own Permanent Disability Rating Schedule developed from AMA guidelines. If you have questions, your attorney can help you understand how these ratings affect you as an injured employee.