Navigating NJ's Permanent Total Benefits Journey: From Injury to Lifeline
When a work-related injury or illness prevents an employee from ever returning to any form of gainful employment, they might be entitled to Permanent Total Benefits. Unlike partial benefits, which account for specific lasting impairments, total benefits recognize that the individual’s capacity to work has been completely and irreversibly impacted.
What are Permanent Total Benefits?
Criteria for Eligibility
A worker is deemed “permanently and totally disabled” if they can no longer perform any kind of work due to the injury or illness sustained at work. It doesn’t mean the person is completely incapacitated or bedridden, but rather that they cannot engage in sustainable employment.
Duration of Benefits
In New Jersey, workers who qualify for Permanent Total Benefits will initially receive these benefits for a period of 450 weeks. However, the benefits can continue if they can demonstrate at the end of this period that they still cannot engage in gainful employment.
Rate of Compensation
The compensation rate for Permanent Total Benefits is typically 70% of the worker’s average weekly wage prior to the injury, but there are minimum and maximum limits set by the state. This ensures that the injured worker receives a significant portion of their usual income to help offset the financial challenges of being unable to work.
Imagine Carlos, a construction worker, suffers a traumatic brain injury from a fall at the site. Post-recovery, the effects of the injury prevent him from holding any job, not just his previous role. Given his limitations after the work accident, Carlos would then be eligible for Permanent Total Benefits to assist him financially.
Navigating the landscape of Permanent Total Benefits can be intricate, especially when it comes to proving the extent of disability. The insurance company may challenge claims, pushing for a “partial” rather than “total” classification. This distinction has significant implications for the duration and amount of compensation.
If granted a total disability rating, benefits may be offset by the receipt of other disability benefits. This complicated determination requires a knowledgeable and experienced NJ work injury attorney to assist in the process.