CSM logo - horizontal

Workers' compensation and disability

Workers’ compensation benefits are paid out to an employee after an injury, illness, or fatality in the workplace. These benefits may cover medical bills, missed wages, and even funeral costs. But many workers’ comp insurance companies also include workers’ compensation disability payments. These benefits may be temporary or permanent, depending on the disability and level of impairment. The percentage of benefits is also determined by a disability rating scale, which is a quantifiable number that determines the employee’s ability to return to work at full capacity.

Navigating the different types of insurance and disability benefits can be difficult. When you partner with a trusted insurance company like CompSource Mutual, you can get the help that you need to simplify the process.

Temporary disability

A temporary disability payment is made when an injured or sick worker cannot return to work right away, but will eventually. In Oklahoma, temporary total disability (TTD) payments cannot exceed 70% of the employee’s pre-injury or pre-illness wages. These payments hinge on the recovery period being temporary; the time limit is typically two years. When the employee returns to work, the TTD benefits end. According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, most workers who receive TTD benefits do recover fully and eventually return to work.

Temporary workers’ comp disability payments are typically paid out through workers’ compensation insurance. When an injury or illness turns out to be permanent, then employees have the option of receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments in addition to, or instead of, their workers’ comp payments.

A worker may also have a temporary partial disability, meaning the worker may be able to return to work, but only for limited number of hours or with limited duties due to a work-related injury. A worker with a temporary partial disability usually means that the worker will fully heal over time.

Permanent disability

There are two types of permanent disability: a permanent partial impairment (PPI) and a permanent total disability (PTD).

A PPI is an injury that prevents the worker from returning to work in their pre-injury or pre-illness capacity, although the worker may return to work in a limited or different capacity. For example, a worker may suffer a shoulder injury while using a piece of machinery at work. After their injury, they receive surgery and are paid workers’ compensation benefits while they recover. They are able to come back to work, but they can’t use their shoulder in the same way as before. In other words, they have reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI) and cannot get any better beyond their current state. They may permanently experience reduced range of motion or loss of strength in their shoulder. This would be considered a PPI, and the worker would be eligible for permanent partial impairment benefits payments.

A PTD is an injury that precludes the employee from returning to work at all in their previous job. A PTD may be the result of a major injury, such as traumatic brain damage or amputation, from which the worker cannot recover. A PTD also means that the worker cannot do the job they were trained to do, even in a limited capacity.

For both types of permanent disability, employees need to receive a disability rating to determine the extent of their workers’ compensation benefits.

Safety Library

Get the guides, tips, and more created by our Safety Team to make your business safer.

Workers’ comp disability ratings

Workers’ comp disability ratings are based on the severity of the employee’s disability and on how much the injury or illness affects the employee’s ability to do their job. The ratings can range from mild (about 25% disabled) to total (100% disabled). In Oklahoma, there is a rating system in place for determining impairment rating payouts, depending on where in the body the injury occurred and the disability rating. For example, if a worker loses 100% of the use of one leg due to a workplace injury, they are allowed a maximum of 275 weeks of permanent partial disability payments, at a rate of 70% of the worker’s pre-injury pay rate. However, if a worker loses only 50% of the use of one leg, then they are allowed 137.50 weeks of permanent partial disability payments.

The system may seem complex, but it was developed so that disability payouts were distributed fairly depending on the type and extent of injury or illness. This is why workers’ comp disability ratings are so important; the percentage can make a huge difference in the number of weeks a disability payout is received. Doctors who write up the medical reports and determine the ratings should be trusted and knowledgeable experts so that the ratings are assigned accurately.

Disability ratings are also connected to how much the injury or illness affects the employee’s ability to do their job. For example, a construction worker who loses the use of one leg would have a permanent disability rating of 100%, because they would not be able to conduct their normal responsibilities. However, an office worker who loses a leg might receive a temporary disability payment, while they are in recovery, but the loss of one leg would not prevent the employee from doing their job.

Rehabilitation and returning to work

In Oklahoma, workers with permanent partial disability benefits may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation. These workers may be able to return to work in some way, but cannot perform the original job they were trained to do. Vocational training helps these workers find new jobs that better suit their current needs.

It may also be useful for an employer to have a list of “transitional jobs,” or meaningful jobs that can be done by an employee with permanent partial disability. These may be jobs that require fewer hours, less time standing, or jobs with less physical strain.

CompSource Mutual provides support in administering a Return to Work program, which helps employers find ways of getting their employees back to work after recovering from a workplace injury or illness. There are four important aspects of a Return to Work program:

  • Appointing a Return to Work coordinator
  • Developing a written Return to Work policy, of which all employees are made aware
  • Selecting a knowledgeable doctor
  • Creating a list of transitional jobs

Putting a Return to Work program in place can help employers retain workers, reduce costs, and increase workplace safety awareness.

Ready to get protected? Our Oklahoma-based team has the expertise to offer you coverage that makes sense for your business’s unique risks. Get a quote

What is Workers' Comp

Discover why it’s important for businesses to obtain workers’ comp to protect workers in the case of a work-related injury or illness.

Your disability rating is determined by a medical doctor. Based on your level of impairment and your ability to do your current job, you will be assigned a percentage such as 25%, 33%, 50%, etc.

The employee needs to report any workplace injuries or illnesses to their employer right away. The employer is then responsible for filing a claim with their workers’ comp insurance company. A claims adjuster will then contact the employer and coordinate any medical treatment and answer questions about benefits. Compensation for medical costs should kick in right away, within several days.

Typically, yes. A permanent total disability means that the worker is not expected to be able to do the job they were trained to do. The worker may receive disability payments for the rest of their life.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.


Request a Quote

Protect your business with first-rate coverage. Enter your zip code below to get your customized quote.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.