Impairment Rating Measures Permanent Reduced Abilities
An Impairment Rating (IR), which is also called a physical impairment rating, is a medical assessment of a claimant’s injury represented by a percentage value. A physician may assign an IR to the body as a whole or to a specific body part.
The rating may then be used to calculate the workers’ comp benefits owed to a claimant. Impairment ratings are particularly important in determining permanent partial disability benefits.
An adjuster’s job involves setting reserves for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD). The rating made by the treating physician usually comes at the time of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). Often, the rating coincides with a full return to work release or within a few months of the return to work.
Two different yet controversial types of ratings exist for doctors to use today. The most popular requirement by most states advises the physician to use the American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines.
For example, a back injury could be rated at a 20% impairment rating to the spine or body as a whole. In many states, the 20% multiplied by the number of weeks for a spine injury allows for that many weeks in PPD.
20% (rating) * 300 weeks (back or spine or body as a whole) = 60 weeks. If the injured employee’s compensation rate equals $500, the injured employee would be entitled to a benefit of $30,000 (60 * $500/wk). States or the Federal Government usually do not tax PPD benefits. The same can be said for most Workers comp benefits.
Most states allow the adjuster to pay the benefits and file a form to let the Industrial Accident Board or Commission that the proper benefits have been paid to the injured employee. The injured employee may request his/her own opinion on the impairment rating.