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How long will I wait for my workers' comp benefits?

While no workplace is 100 percent safe, some workers are at higher risks than others, and many face serious safety hazards every day. Knowing your rights when it comes to workplace injuries is especially important if you work in the construction, manufacturing, logging, agricultural or other hazardous industry. While Medicare's or Social Security Disability Insurance can take many months or years to kick in after you suffered debilitating injuries, some workers' compensation benefits will start immediately.

Knowing that there will be no delay in financial assistance may set your mind at ease. The responsibility of caring for your family can create a heavy burden to carry if you are unable to resume working after an on-the-job accident.

What are the different types of benefits classifications?

The severity of your workplace injury or occupational illness and the expected duration of absence will determine the type of benefits for which you will qualify.

1. Medical benefits only: If your injuries were not serious enough to prevent you from returning to work within days, your workers' compensation benefits would only cover your medical expenses. However, you would be eligible for an immediate cash payment of 100 percent of those costs.

2. Temporary disability benefits: Further classification takes place if your injuries were debilitating.

  • TTD: Temporary total disability benefits are those you will receive if you are able to recover from your injury or illness enough to allow you to return to your regular job -- or a similar occupation -- with the same employer within a reasonable time. You will receive benefits within three to seven working days -- only for the period of absence.
  • TPD: Temporary partial disability benefits are for circumstances in which your condition allows you to return to work, but for restricted duties only. Because you may earn a reduced wage during that time, you will receive benefits to make up the shortfall.

3. Permanent disability benefits: These benefits are also broken down into two different classifications.

  • PTD: Permanent total disability benefits are for injuries or an occupational illness that causes permanent impairment that leaves you unable to do any work -- even after all medical treatment and rehabilitation. The waiting period for these benefits is no longer than one week.
  • PPD: Permanent partial disability means you will never be able to return to your previous occupation after suffering a debilitating injury. However, it will not prevent you from doing a different job. Sometimes PPD benefits include vocational therapy treatment, which will teach you additional skills that will accommodate the disability caused by your workplace injury.

As with most other laws or rules, exceptions exist, and while these are the manners in which benefits are to be received, pursuing compensation can often be challenging.

Although workers' compensation is a no-fault system that does not require proof of negligence by any party, your employer might dispute your benefits claim by saying your injury was not work related or that your own negligence caused it. It is in such circumstances that injured workers in Kentucky sometimes seek the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney who can navigate claims or appeals for benefits for them to ensure they receive all rightful compensation.

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