What Is Partial Versus Total Disability, and Temporary Versus Permanent Disability?

Workers disability can be identified using a few different terms. As the terms imply, a worker may be disabled only partially or totally, and, temporarily or permanently. The laws treat each form of disability differently.

Partially, temporarily disabled: This condition will generally allow the injured worker to receive benefits based on a schedule that bases payments on a percentage of maximum benefits. Generally, a worker will receive these benefits until released to their former job or until a determination that the injury is more permanent.

Partially, permanently disabled: This condition generally allows a worker to receive a percentage of the full benefit on a monthly basis for the remainder of his or her life, unless the condition improves.

Totally, temporarily disabled: Many injuries cause total disability for a temporary period. Workers with this condition are typically paid two-thirds of their lost wage, tax-free, until they are able to return to work or their condition improves.

Totally, permanently disabled: These workers generally receive the state’s full benefit amount on a monthly basis for the rest of their lives.

Each state has its own schedules and time limits regarding each of these conditions. Thus, as seen in the example where a worker in one state may receive a vastly different amount for the loss of an arm than a worker with the same injury in another state, workers from state to state, even with arguably the same condition, often receive greatly varying awards.