Learn about permanent total disability (PTD) benefits after a work injury in NC, including which injuries qualify and how to maximize your benefits
If you’ve suffered a severe work-related injury in Charlotte, it’s crucial to understand your entitlement to permanent total disability (PTD) benefits and how they can help safeguard your financial future.
PTD comes into play when an employee is left with a disability so substantial that it completely impairs their ability to work following a work-related injury, illness or disease.
This comprehensive guide aims to demystify workers’ compensation PTD benefits, detailing what injuries and health conditions qualify as permanent total disabilities, the process of determining PTD status, and how to calculate benefits.
Navigating the complexities of a workers’ comp claim or assessing the value of your injury can be challenging, which is why the knowledgeable Charlotte work injury attorneys at Wilder Pantazis Law Group offer free consultations to help you access the support and compensation you rightfully deserve.
Learn how we can help with your claim by scheduling your consultation today.
What qualifies as total and permanent disability after a work injury in NC?
In North Carolina, an employee may be eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits after a work-related injury, illness or disease that leads to specific severe physical or mental limitations. Under statute §97-29 of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, the following conditions qualify for PTD benefits:
- Serious brain or head injuries. These injuries must result in permanent and severe issues like sensory or motor disturbances, communication problems, complex cerebral function disturbances, or neurological disorders.
- Extensive burns. Second- or third-degree burns that cover 33% or more of the total body surface also qualify for PTD benefits.
In most cases, an employee eligible for permanent total disability is entitled to lifelong compensation, including medical benefits, unless proven capable of returning to suitable employment.
What benefits are injured NC workers entitled to if they have a permanent total disability?
If you suffer a total disability at work, you will likely qualify for a number of workers’ compensation benefits, including medical benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits and wage loss benefits.
As far as wage replacement after a work-related injury or condition, you may initially qualify for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. These are typically limited to a period of 500 weeks from the first day you were unable to work due to your injury, illness or disease.
During this time, you can receive weekly wage loss benefits equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wages. However, there are limits. The amount can’t exceed the maximum established annually, which was $1,254 as of January 1, 2023, and it can’t be less than $30 per week.
In cases where the disability is permanent, you can apply for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits to extend your compensation beyond the 500-week limit. To qualify, you must apply after 425 weeks have passed since your disability first began and prove that you’ve completely lost the ability to earn wages.
If you qualify, these wage loss benefits should continue for the remainder of your life.
How do you prove permanent disability after a work injury?
To prove permanent disability after a work injury, you typically need comprehensive medical documentation from your treating physician, including a detailed medical assessment that outlines the extent of your injuries, the treatments received, and your prognosis, along with an official impairment rating that quantifies the degree of your permanent disability.
Who determines if I qualify for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, the determination of whether an injured worker qualifies for PTD benefits is typically made by a combination of medical evaluations and legal decisions. Here’s how it generally works:
- Medical assessment. A qualified health care professional, usually the injured worker’s authorized treating physician, conducts a thorough medical evaluation. This doctor assesses the extent and permanence of the worker’s injuries after they have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is the point at which an injured individual’s medical condition has stabilized and is not expected to improve with or without medical treatment.
- Impairment rating. The physician assigns an impairment rating based on medical guidelines. This rating is crucial in assessing the severity of the disability and its impact on the worker’s ability to perform job-related tasks.
- Workers’ Compensation Commission. The North Carolina Industrial Commission, which oversees workers’ compensation claims in the state, reviews the medical findings and any additional evidence presented, taking into account the impairment rating, the worker’s job duties, and other relevant factors.
- Legal proceedings. If there are disputes or if the employer or insurance company challenges the claim, the case might go through a hearing where a judge will review the evidence and make a determination.
Additionally, in some cases, if the worker disagrees with the impairment rating or the extent of their disability, they may seek a second opinion or undergo further evaluations to support their claim.
Ultimately, the decision on PTD benefits in North Carolina involves both medical judgment and legal processes to ensure that workers receive fair and appropriate compensation based on their specific circumstances.
Are PTD benefits taxable in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, as in most states, workers’ compensation benefits, including permanent total disability (PTD) benefits, are generally not taxable at either the state or federal level, so you do not have to pay state or federal income taxes on these benefits.
Should I hire an attorney to help with a workers’ comp claim for a permanent disability?
In the vast majority of cases, the answer is yes. Here’s why:
- They provide expertise in workers’ compensation law. Attorneys specializing in workers’ compensation understand the complexities of the law and can navigate the legal system effectively. They can guide you through each step, from filing the claim to dealing with medical evaluations and gathering the necessary documentation.
- They help maximize your benefits. An experienced attorney can help ensure you receive all the benefits you’re entitled to, including accurately calculating the value of your claim. This is essential in cases where an on-the-job injury or illness results in a permanent disability that prevents you from working in the future.
- They help mitigate risks. An attorney can help you avoid common pitfalls and ensure that you meet all deadlines and procedural requirements, reducing the risk of errors that could jeopardize your claim.
It’s also important to understand that many workers’ compensation attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t have to pay any upfront fees, and you don’t owe anything unless you receive benefits.
Additionally, hiring an attorney often leads to a higher settlement, making the investment more than worthwhile in the long run.
Did you suffer a permanent disability at work in NC? Wilder Pantazis Law Group can help!
If you suffered a serious or catastrophic injury, illness or disease at work that left you with a permanent disability in North Carolina, it’s crucial to have an attorney assist you with obtaining the workers’ comp benefits you need for your future medical expenses and lost income.
At Wilder Pantazis Law Group, our experienced Charlotte work injury attorneys have more than 85 years of combined experience helping injured North Carolina workers get the compensation they deserve.
We can estimate the value of your injury and negotiate with your employer to help ensure you get maximum workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your rights.
§97-29. Compensation rates for total incapacity. (n.d.). Www.ic.nc.gov. https://www.ic.nc.gov/ncic/pages/statute/97-29.htm