Learn about your right to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, including the types of injuries and illnesses that qualify and the steps to file a claim
Workers’ compensation benefits serve as a crucial safety net for employees who suffer from work-related injuries, illnesses or diseases. These benefits ensure that workers are not left financially vulnerable during periods when they’re unable to work due to their health conditions.
In North Carolina, the workers’ compensation system plays a vital role in providing this support. It not only helps cover medical expenses and rehabilitation costs but also compensates for lost wages, thereby easing the financial burden on injured workers and their families.
If a work injury, illness or disease has left you temporarily unable to work, it’s essential to understand your right to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits during your recovery.
If you have questions about these benefits after reading this article or would like help filing a claim, reach out to the experienced Charlotte work injury attorneys at Wilder Pantazis Law Group to schedule a free consultation.
Does North Carolina have temporary disability?
Yes, in North Carolina, most workers who suffer a work-related injury, illness or disease that temporarily prevents them from working will qualify for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits under workers’ compensation. These benefits are provided through insurance policies that most North Carolina employers are required to have if they employ 3 or more employees.
What is temporary total disability in NC?
Temporary total disability (TTD) refers to a situation where an injured worker is completely unable to work for a temporary period due to a work-related injury, illness or disease, as determined by a physician. In such cases, the worker is entitled to receive TTD benefits to help supplement their wage loss while they’re unable to work.
What types of injuries and health conditions might qualify for TTD benefits?
TTD benefits can cover a wide range of work-related injuries, illnesses, and occupational diseases. Below are just a few examples:
- Injuries from accidents. This includes injuries like fractures, burns, head injuries, spinal cord injuries and amputations resulting from falls, machinery accidents, vehicular accidents on the job, or other physical workplace incidents.
- Repetitive stress injuries. These include conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and bursitis, often seen in workers performing repetitive tasks such as typing, assembly line work or heavy lifting.
- Occupational diseases. These are conditions that develop over time due to exposure to harmful substances or unhealthy work environments. Examples include asbestosis and other respiratory diseases from inhaling toxic substances, skin diseases caused by chemical exposure, and hearing loss due to constant loud noise.
- Illnesses from infectious diseases. For health care workers and others exposed to infectious diseases in the workplace, illnesses such as tuberculosis, COVID-19, or hepatitis may be covered.
- Chemical poisoning. This includes illnesses from exposure to toxic chemicals or hazardous materials, like lead poisoning or pesticide-related illnesses.
It’s important to note that to qualify for TTD benefits under workers’ comp, you’ll need to be able to prove that your injury or health condition arose out of the “course and scope” of your employment. This often requires thorough documentation, including medical records and incident reports, and potentially expert testimony to establish a clear connection between your work and your injury or illness.
How much is temporary disability in NC?
In North Carolina, the amount paid for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits under workers’ compensation is typically calculated as two-thirds of the injured worker’s average weekly wage prior to the injury, within certain limits.
There are state-mandated maximum and minimum amounts for these benefits, which are adjusted annually. As of January 1, 2023, the maximum weekly benefit was set at $1,254.
However, it’s always advisable to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to understand the specific amount you may be eligible for, as it will depend on your individual circumstances and the current state limits.
How do you get temporary disability in NC?
To obtain temporary disability benefits under workers’ compensation in North Carolina, you need to follow these steps:
- Report the injury. Inform your employer about your injury as soon as possible. North Carolina law requires you to report the injury in writing within 30 days, but it’s best to do this immediately and in writing. Your employer should then report the injury to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
- Seek medical treatment. Get medical attention for your injury. Inform the health care provider that your injury is work-related. Your employer may direct you to a specific health care provider for treatment.
- File your claim. You should file a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) by submitting Form 18 (Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee) within 2 years of the injury.
- Insurance carrier investigation. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier will investigate the claim, which may include reviewing medical records and possibly taking statements. If they approve your claim, you will start receiving temporary total disability benefits.
If your claim is denied or you disagree with the benefits provided, you can appeal the decision. This process can be complex and may involve mediation, hearings before the NCIC, and possibly legal representation, so it’s best to contact an experienced work injury attorney to help you with the process.
Is there a waiting period before you can receive TTD benefits in North Carolina?
Yes, in North Carolina, there is a waiting period of 7 days from the date of injury before a worker will begin receiving TTD benefits. However, if the employee is unable to work for more than 21 days due to the injury, the workers’ compensation insurance will then retroactively cover the initial 7-day waiting period.
This means that while the first week of disability is not immediately compensated, if the worker’s disability extends beyond 3 weeks, they will eventually receive benefits for that first week as well.
This rule is designed to balance the need to provide benefits for more serious injuries against the administrative overhead of processing very short-term claims.
How long can you receive TTD benefits in North Carolina?
TTD benefits are typically provided until the worker is able to return to work or reaches what is known as maximum medical improvement (MMI), indicating that their condition is unlikely to improve further.
Generally speaking, TTD benefits may be discontinued once any of the following occur:
- Return to work. If you are able to return to your pre-injury job or a job that accommodates your restrictions and pays similar wages your benefits will stop.
- Maximum medical improvement (MMI). When you reach MMI, it means your condition has stabilized and is not expected to improve significantly. At this point, your disability status may be re-evaluated to determine if you qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) or permanent total disability (PTD) benefits.
- Expiry of benefit period. For most injuries, TTD benefits are capped at 500 weeks (about 9.6 years). However, in cases of severe injuries such as paralysis, brain injury or other conditions classified as resulting in total and permanent disability, the benefits may be extended beyond 500 weeks.
- Non-compliance. Benefits might also end if you aren’t compliant with treatment plans or other requirements of the workers’ compensation process.
It’s important to note that each case is unique, and the duration of TTD benefits can vary based on specific circumstances. Regular communication with your employer, the insurance carrier, and possibly legal counsel is essential to navigate the process and understand how long you might be eligible to receive benefits.
Get help from an experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney
If you’ve suffered an on-the-job injury, illness or disease in North Carolina, increase your chance of a successful claim with the help of the knowledgeable Charlotte work injury attorneys at Wilder Pantazis Law Group.