Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits in South Carolina
If you have been injured in an accident at work, you may feel like you have a lot of important questions and no answers. How are you supposed to pay your bills when you can’t work? How does workers’ compensation fit into all this? Are you even eligible for workers’ comp benefits? Read on to learn the answers to these important questions, with an emphasis on explaining the various types of workers’ comp benefits.
In South Carolina, the Workers’ Compensation Act may authorize you for the following benefits:
|medical care expenses|
|vocational rehabilitation benefits|
|compensation for lost wages|
Potential compensation for lost wages is determined by whether your disability is partial or total, as well as by whether your disability is temporary or permanent:
- temporary partial disability – TPD
- temporary total disability – TTD
- permanent partial disability – PPD
- permanent total disability – PTD
How these determinations are made could greatly affect the amount of compensation you may receive. Our experienced workers’ comp attorneys can help guide clients through the workers’ compensation process, complete the necessary forms on time, document medical expenses, calculate lost wages, deal with insurance companies, file an appeal if necessary – and they can provide answers to your workers’ comp questions.
Medical Care Benefits
If you have been hurt at work, you are probably trying to figure how to pay your medical bills, as well as who is responsible for paying them. If your employer has at least four employees, he or she is generally required by state law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover medical expenses if an employee is injured at work.
In South Carolina, workers’ compensation usually provides reimbursement for doctor appointments, medications, hospitalizations, surgery, and medical and prosthetic devices.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits
If you are able to return to work but are earning less than before your injury, you may be eligible to receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits for a maximum of 340 weeks in South Carolina. These potential benefits equal two-thirds of the difference between your before-the-injury wages and your after-the-injury wages. Here’s an example of how TPD can be calculated:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits
In South Carolina, if you are unable to return to work after seven days, even in a “light duty” job, temporary total disability (TTD) benefits may be available to you. However, you won’t receive these potential benefits for the first seven days of your disability, unless you miss more than 14 days of work.
TTD benefits are equal to two-thirds of an injured worker’s average weekly wage, but they cannot exceed a maximum amount set by South Carolina law each year. For 2020, the maximum benefit is $866.67 per week. (Check this updated list of maximum weekly compensation rates.)
Temporary total disability benefits can be paid until you are able to return to your normal job or your doctor declares that your condition has improved as much as it can with treatment, known as maximum medical improvement (MMI). Then it’s time to evaluate if you may have a permanent disability. Here’s an example of how TTD benefits can be calculated:
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits
If you can return to work in some capacity, but still haven’t completely recovered from an on-the-job injury, you may be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits.
In South Carolina, if you have a permanent disability, you may be eligible to receive up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage for a certain period of time. However, South Carolina law also applies a cap on the amount you can potentially receive based on which body part was injured. Enlist an experienced workers’ comp lawyer to help you calculate potential PPD benefits for your claim.
After your doctor declares that you’ve reached MMI, you may then be evaluated for a permanent disability by the same treating physician. You may benefit from requesting an independent medical examination (IME) to determine if your disability is permanent. Your potential weekly lost wages benefit calculation can be greatly affected by the accuracy of your disability diagnosis, so consult with a South Carolina workers’ comp attorney about whether you should seek an IME.
In this evaluation, the physician may assign a PPD, or impairment, rating that represents the percentage of disability for your injured body part. This PPD rating is then applied to a South Carolina-specific schedule which lists the number of weeks you may receive PPD benefits. The schedule, part of South Carolina law (Section 42-9-30), takes into account specific body parts and sets a number of weeks PPD can potentially be paid for these body parts. Here’s an example of how PPD benefits can be calculated:
Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits
If your work injury has left you totally disabled and unable to return to work in any capacity, you may be entitled to receive two-thirds of your pre-injury wages in South Carolina. These permanent total disability (PTD) benefits may be paid up to 500 weeks.
In even more extreme cases, such as the loss of both hands, arms, feet, legs, or vision in both eyes, or a combination of two such losses, you may be entitled to Total Disability for the rest of your life.
Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits
Vocational rehabilitation, if benefits are awarded, can help you rebuild your work skills as you recover from a workplace injury. If you are unable to return to work, vocational rehab also can include retraining and job modification services. In South Carolina, these services are often covered under workers’ compensation. Consult with an attorney to ask about these benefits to which you may be entitled.
If your loved one has died due to work injuries, workers’ comp benefits may be able to relieve some of your financial burden. South Carolina state law may cover two-thirds of the deceased person’s income for up to 500 weeks. Talk to a lawyer to see if you are eligible for these benefits as well as for potential compensation for any of the burial expenses.
The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Can Fight for You
Whenever you get injured, life gets more complicated – whether it’s figuring out how to move around with a broken leg or unscrew jars with an impaired hand. But getting hurt at work adds an additional layer of difficulty to everyday life – now you have to figure out who is responsible for paying for your medical care and how you can seek compensation for lost wages. But workers’ compensation was created to help eligible workers who get injured at work. And the lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin know workers’ compensation law.
We know how to help clients navigate the often complex maze of workers’ comp rules and regulations. In 2022, we were honored on the “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News. That means our firm was recognized by clients and peers for professional excellence.3
We have the resources, talent, and experience to help. Since our firm started in 1997, we’ve recovered over $1.2 billion in total client compensation.1
Meet Attorney Mike Eller
Mike has been advocating for South Carolinians for over 15 years and once served as Council Member for the South Carolina Bar Workers’ Compensation Section Council.
3For information on standards for inclusion, visit https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/.