If you can no longer physically or mentally work due to an injury or illness, you may be entitled to collect permanent disability benefits. These benefits are meant to help cover the cost of living and medical expenses and can be vital to maintaining your quality of life. Unfortunately, the process of applying for and collecting permanent disability benefits is often complicated and frustrating. It can be riddled with delays, denials, and other complications that add unfair stress to an already difficult situation.
The good news is that legal professionals are trained to ensure you don't have to go through it alone. A San Diego permanent disability attorney can help you navigate the process and fight for the benefits you deserve, along with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have an advocate on your side.
At Mitchell Law Corporation, our team of experienced and compassionate disability lawyers is proud to serve the residents of San Diego. We understand how physically difficult and mentally challenging it can be to deal with a permanent disability, so we're here to help you get the benefits you need to maintain your quality of life. We'll work tirelessly on your behalf to guide you through the process and ensure that you get the best possible outcome. Our goal is to ensure you can focus on your health and recovery without stressing about the financial burden of your disability.
Permanent disability is defined as an injury or illness that prevents you from ever returning to work or limits your ability to work significantly for the long term. To be eligible for permanent disability benefits, you must have a disability that is expected to impact your life for at least 12 months or could result in death.
There are two types of permanent disability benefits that you may be entitled to collect:
- Total Permanent Disability (TPD): An individual who qualifies for TPD is unable to work in any capacity and is not expected ever to be able to return to work. This can be due to many different factors, including paralysis, blindness, severe burns, or amputation. This qualification entitles you to receive weekly payments for a to-be-determined duration that will factor in how severe your disability is, your age, your past wage history, and more.
- Partial Permanent Disability (PPD): Individuals who qualify for PPD are typically individuals who did not fully recover after experiencing a work-related injury and, as a result, are unable to return to their previous job or line of work. These are typically injuries that result in long-term pain or limited mobility, such as back injuries, neck injuries, or joint damage. PPD entitles you to receive a percentage of your previous wages every week for a to-be-determined duration.
Several different injuries and illnesses can lead to permanent disability, but some are more common than others. These include:
- Paralyzing injuries: These are injuries that result in the paralysis of any part of the body, including the limbs, trunk, or head. The injury creates an inability to move or feel that part of the body. This dramatically impacts an individual's ability to return to work, as most jobs require the use of all limbs to perform job duties. Paralysis injuries can be caused by many different things, including car accidents or falls.
- Loss of limb: The loss of a limb is another common type of injury that can result in permanent disability. These are serious injuries that often require amputation and, as a result, make it difficult or impossible to return to the same job or line of work. Amputations can be caused by a number of different things, including car or machinery accidents.
- Brain injuries: Any injury to the brain can have long-lasting effects and can often result in permanent disability. These injuries can cause a number of different issues, including chronic pain, loss of motor skills, and cognitive impairments. It is difficult to return to work with a brain injury, as most jobs require sharp mental skills and the ability to perform physical tasks.
- Broken bones: While broken bones typically heal over time, there are some instances where the bone does not heal properly or the break is so severe that it results in long-term pain or mobility issues. These types of injuries often make it difficult to return to the same job, as many jobs require physical activity and the ability to lift heavy objects.
These are just a few of the more common injuries that can result in permanent disability, but it is important to note that any type of injury or illness can potentially lead to permanent disability if it is severe enough to prevent an individual from completing their job duties independently like they were prior to the injury.
There are several different types of evidence that can be used to qualify for permanent disability benefits, but some of the most common include:
- Medical records: These are perhaps the most important type of evidence, as they will document your injury, the treatment you received, and any prognosis for your recovery. Medical records can be helpful in proving the severity of your injury and why you are unable to return to work.
- Witness statements: Witness statements can be helpful in providing first-hand accounts of how your injury occurred and the impact it has had on your life. These statements can be from co-workers, friends, family members, or anyone else who has seen the effects of your injury.
- Video or photographic evidence: This type of evidence can be helpful in showing the extent of your injuries, whether they are visible or not. This can be things like photographs of your injuries, videos of you struggling to perform everyday tasks, or anything else that helps to document the effect your injury has had on your life.
- Employer statements: Employer statements can help document what your job duties were prior to your injury and why you are now unable to perform those duties. These statements can also provide information on what accommodations, if any, your employer is willing to make in order to help you return to work.
These are just a few examples of the types of evidence that can be used to qualify for permanent disability benefits, but it is important to note that any type of evidence that helps to document your injury and its impact on your ability to work can be helpful in winning your claim.
The process for applying for permanent disability benefits can be long and complicated, which is why it's often beneficial to have an experienced disability attorney by your side. In general, the process looks something like this:
- You will need to file a workers' compensation claim with your employer. This needs to be done as soon as possible after you experience your injury or illness, as there is a statute of limitations in place.
- Your employer will then have the option of accepting or denying your claim. If they accept your claim, they will begin the process of providing you with workers' compensation benefits. If they deny your claim, you will need to file an appeal.
- Once your claim is accepted, you will need to provide proof of your disability to the workers' compensation insurance company. This will typically involve obtaining a written report from your treating physician that outlines the nature and severity of your disability.
- Once the insurance company has received this information, they will make a determination as to whether or not you qualify for permanent disability benefits. If they determine that you do not qualify, you will have the option to file an appeal.
- If your appeal is successful, you will begin receiving benefits on a weekly basis. These benefits will continue for as long as you remain disabled.
If your claim for benefits is denied, you have the right to file an appeal. This appeal will be heard by a judge who will review all of the evidence in your disability case and make a determination as to whether or not you are eligible for benefits.
A successful appeal usually contains:
- A detailed description of your injury or illness and how it has impacted your ability to work.
- Documentation from your treating physician outlining the nature and severity of your disability.
- Evidence of the accommodations your employer has made or is willing to make in order to help you return to work.
- Any other evidence that helps to document the impact your injury or illness has had on your ability to work.
- Why you believe the original decision was incorrect, supported by evidence.
These elements can be critical in winning your appeal, which is why it's often helpful to have a disability attorney working for you who can prioritize and prepare this evidence on your behalf.
In addition to workers' compensation, you may also be entitled to collect Social Security disability benefits. These benefits are available to those who have paid into Social Security and are unable to work due to a disability. While the process of applying for these benefits is similar to that of workers' compensation, there are some key differences to be aware of when working with a Social Security disability attorney.
First and foremost, Social Security disability benefits are not available to those who are able to work in some capacity, even if it's not in their previous field. In order to collect these benefits, you must be completely unable to work. Additionally, the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits can be much longer than that of workers' compensation. It's not uncommon for the application process to take several months or even up to a year.
Fortunately, experienced San Diego Social Security disability lawyers can help you navigate the process and ensure that you get the benefits you need and deserve.
If you've been injured at work and are unable to return to your previous job, it's important to take the necessary steps to maximize your permanent disability benefits. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible after your injury. This will help to ensure that your injuries are properly documented from the start. It also helps start the process of getting the necessary treatment for your injuries to demonstrate that you were as proactive as possible in alleviating your pain and suffering.
- Be sure to keep track of all medical appointments, treatments, and expenses related to your injury. This information will be important when it comes time to file your claim for benefits, as the insurer will want to see that you made a good faith effort to recover from your injuries.
- Keep detailed records of how your injury has impacted your ability to work. This can include everything from doctor's notes outlining your restrictions to pay stubs showing a decrease in hours worked. Testimony from those in your network that can share how your injury has changed your life and prevented you from doing things you used to love can also be helpful.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. An experienced San Diego permanent disability attorney can guide you through the process of filing your claim and help to ensure that you get the maximum benefits you're entitled to.
If you've been injured at work, it's important to understand your rights and options for pursuing benefits. The experienced team at Mitchell Law Corporation can help. We specialize in injury law and have a proven track record of success in helping our clients get the benefits they need and deserve. Contact us today to begin consultation and witness the expertise of our team for yourself.