What is an Anatomical Impairment Rating – Workers Compensation
As a seriously injured employee, your first goal is to be able to go back to work quickly and in a healthy state. Although you may want to return to your normal activities, you should ensure that your body can perform your work tasks before your accident. Sometimes, depending on the nature of your accident, that is not always possible, or it is possible, but with exceptions and limitations.
What happens if your injuries do not heal and you end up with a partial permanent disability or total disability? A partial disability, or any disability sustained at work, is rated by a doctor, referred to as an anatomical impairment rating. Your physician determines the percentage of the rating. The rating helps indicate how long you may receive workers’ compensation and how much you can receive.
Each impairment is then assigned a dollar value, and the degree of impairment makes a difference. The more severe the impairment, the higher the benefit may be. The insurance company uses impairment ratings to calculate your benefits.
How Anatomical Ratings Relate to Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
While this may sound like an ideal and fair way to assess an anatomical impairment, the injured worker and insurance company often do not agree on the level of impairment or the extent of an injury. Even with an impairment rating from a doctor, there can still be disagreements.
Anatomical ratings can affect whether or not an employer decides to return you to work for their company. Impairment ratings are crucial in determining benefits, such as SSA disability benefits, other employment benefits, and workers’ compensation.
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
When dealing with Arkansas workers’ compensation cases, the injured worker is typically released by the doctor at maximum medical improvement (MMI), and the physician assigns an impairment rating. The rating tells the employer and the AWCC the level of impairment. That impairment rating may indicate the worker is totally disabled or partially disabled.
Degrees and Differences of Impairment
There are various levels of anatomical impairment. They include:
- Permanent – The disability does not get better.
- Temporary – The disability does get better.
- Partial – Impairment only affects a specific part of the body.
- Total – Impairment affects the worker’s whole body. Benefits last longer and are more significant. An impairment rating is still required to determine the full scope of benefits the worker qualifies for.
If a worker can return to their job, be paid less, or take over a less taxing job, they are partially disabled. If they cannot return to their position, they are disabled.
Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE)
After an injured worker has reached MMI, the doctor usually will assign a rating or send them to be rated by a third party. The worker must go for this assessment or may lose benefits. The IRE lets the employer and insurance company know the full extent of a worker’s injuries. Employers or insurance companies can wrongfully use this rating to try and reduce an injured worker’s benefits.
Doctors must use The AMA Guides to calculate an impairment rating to evaluate permanent impairment, assign a rating, and determine a dollar figure. This rating formula is used to determine how much a worker’s anatomical impairment rating is worth.
It is important to note that the insurer would prefer that a worker’s disability is under a specific threshold. This would let them move a worker off total disability benefits and onto partial disability benefits (PPD). While it saves the insurance company money, it is not always in the injured worker’s best interest.
If a worker disagrees with the outcome of the IRE, they can appeal to the AWCC. Speak with a skilled Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield to obtain your benefits. We are with you every step of the way and represent you through the anatomical impairment rating and appeals process.
Contact the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield Today
The Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A., represents workers’ compensation claims from Northwest Arkansas, including Fort Smith, Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville, Bentonville, Berryville, and Harrison.
We offer years of experience and understand the changing Arkansas laws. Take the time to recover while we help investigate and prepare your case. Call us today for your free consultation at (479) 361-3575.