An injured employee in the State of Minnesota is entitled to receive certain workers’ compensation benefits. The purpose of these benefits is to help the injured worker return to work with the same job duties and at the same rate of pay. They are designed to help an injured employee and their family avoid loss of income, access medical care, and provide training and other benefits so that the employee can enjoy a smooth return to the workforce.
The Four Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In general, an injured worker is entitled to wage loss benefits that equal two-thirds (⅔) of the average weekly wage they earned prior to being injured. This benefit is called Temporary Total Disability, and it is designed to replace the injured employee’s wages if they are off work entirely. Wage loss payments are tax-free, so it’s closer to a take-home pay rate than it would first appear.
If an injured worker is working reduced hours due to their injury, they are entitled to Temporary Partial Disability. In this case, the worker will receive two-thirds (⅔) of the difference between their pre-injury average weekly wage and what they are earning now. For example, an injured worker might have earned $1000 per week before their injury. Now, working part time, they are only earning $600. The difference between $1000 and $600 is $400, so the employee will earn two-thirds of $400, or $266.40.
Sometimes an employee is injured so severely that they are unable to continue work in any capacity. The benefit available for these rare occurrences is called Permanent Total Disability. If the injured worker meets certain strict criteria, they could be entitled to receive benefits based on 65% of the statewide average weekly wage, at minimum.
Permanent Partial Disability
There are limited benefits available for permanent injuries. Minnesota state law lays out a set of rules describing how much an injured worker should receive if they have certain permanent injuries or conditions. At the time that an injured worker is released to work without restrictions, or if they are assigned permanent restrictions, their doctor may sign off on a diagnosis of permanent injury. The specific injury is then identified in the rules and a payment is calculated based on a formula. For example, a permanent injury may be assigned a rating of 7% by the injured worker’s doctor. Based on the statutory formula, this translates to a one-time payment of $5,880.
Workers’ compensation benefits also include payment of reasonable and necessary treatment that is related to the work injury. Injured workers have the right to pick their own doctor – they cannot be compelled by their employer to treat with a particular medical provider.
Medical benefits also include payment for treatment of consequential injuries, that is, secondary injuries that arise due to the existence of some other work-related injury. For example, a worker injures their left knee in a fall that occurred at work. As a result, they put more weight and stress on their right leg. This speeds up the degeneration of their healthy right knee, which is a consequential injury even though the worker did not injure their right knee during the original fall.
Injured workers are also entitled to reimbursement of reasonable medical mileage and/or transportation to certain medical appointments.
Generally, rehabilitation benefits come in the form of services provide by a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant, or QRC. More information about QRCs can be found here. Rehabilitation benefits may also include payment for job placement services or other career counseling.
Sometimes an injured worker will not be able to return to their regular job duties, or there may be no appropriate positions available in their industry at all. For certain qualified individuals, extensive retraining could be available. Retraining benefits include payment of school tuition as well as wage loss while attending a retraining program.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of benefits available to injured workers in Minnesota. If you feel like you may not be getting everything you are entitled to, call Aaron Ferguson Law at 651-493-0426 for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys.