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  • Writer's pictureJohn Larrimer

What Is Impairment Rating? | Information Brought to You by Law Offices of Larrimer and Larrimer 

If it isn't already bad enough for a person to get hurt on the job, what's worse is them wanting to recover and return to work but can't because it is far too risky to do so. Going back to work too soon can hurt one's chances at full recovery just as much as it can risk further damage to their workplace injury.

Those that have previously dealt with workers' compensation claims will often express how quickly things can become complicated and how recovery becomes tangled up in what is known as the workers' compensation system.

There have been countless cases where doctors give their clients the go-ahead to return to their working life before they are fully ready. More so, the doctors of these injured workers are usually at the discretion of their insurance company.

However, there is hope for those who feel like they are not medically ready to return to the working world, and by contacting the Larrimer and Larrimer Law Offices, they may have a chance at getting a second doctor's opinion.

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

In the language of a workers' compensation claim, when a worker's period of healing ends, they are considered to have reached maximum medical improvement. Those who are lucky enough to have made a complete recovery with no pain or loss of function will have their doctors detail that they have made a 100% recovery in their medical records, meaning that they are back to how they were before the work-related injury occurred.

However, this is not always the case, and sometimes, an injured worker will still have weakness, pain, deformity, or loss of function that has not improved with medical treatment. Doctors will then assign a permanent impairment rating. Permanent impairment ratings reflect the percentage of change from a worker's normal pre-injury condition.

What Is an Impairment Rating?

When a doctor releases an injured worker, they will assign them an impairment rating. An impairment rating can be described as the measure of the level of impairment of a worker, and it intends to inform the insurance company, the employer, as well as the workers themselves about the severity of the injury. Impairment ratings determine if a worker has a partial or total disability as a result of their injury.

The Different Degrees of Impairment

#1 Permanent Impairment

This is a type of impairment that lasts forever.

#2 Temporary Impairment

A temporary impairment does not last forever, and there are many instances where injuries have resulted in an impairment that lasts for only a specific amount of time.

#3 Partial Impairment

This impairment type only affects a certain body part, for example, hearing loss in only one ear.

#4 Total Impairment

Total impairment affects the whole person; a spinal cord injury is a good example of a whole person impairment rating.

Overall, total and permanent impairments make a worker eligible to pursue longer as well as larger benefits regarding workers' compensation. Permanent disabilities should also be receiving an impairment rating evaluation to help establish the full range of benefits a worker may be entitled to.

The Impairment Rating Process

Insurers are given a percentage of the degree of impairment suffered by a worker through a medical impairment rating which will, in turn, help them to decide how much the impairment will affect a worker's ability to return to work.

Workers who are able to return to work in a less stressful or lower-paying capacity are considered partially disabled, whereas workers who cannot return to work under any capacity are considered totally disabled.

In order to receive this rating, a worker is required to already have received 1o4 weeks of benefits after an injury. Their impairment also needs to be considered permanent, and full recovery is, therefore, no longer possible.

When this is the case, a worker will need to enter the process of impairment rating; this process entails the following:

Scheduling an IRE Examination

The purpose of an impairment rating evaluation of a permanent disability is for insurance companies and employers to evaluate the full extent of a worker's injuries.

The IRE Examination

During this examination, a worker's impairment and health will be examined so that the degree of the impairment they now suffer from can be determined.

Calculation of the Impairment Rating Percentage

A doctor will assign a rating that is valued at a dollar figure.

IRE Results

Workers should keep in mind that an insurer wants the doctor to rate the permanent disability below a certain threshold in an attempt to move them onto partial disability benefits.

Bottom Line | Appealing an IRE

Workers who disagree with their results can file for an appeal. Those who are wanting to receive maximum benefits will need a skilled and experienced attorney at their side. They can help address various questions and concerns, such as why employers fight workers comp claims.

Workers should call (614) 820-1855 for a top-rated Columbus workermans compensation lawyer for legal representation through the impairment rating, as well as the appeals process.

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