When a workers’ compensation doctor decides that an injured worker has reached the highest level of medical improvement possible, and they are nonetheless physically incapable of fulfilling the responsibilities of their former job, the physician will assign the injured worker what is called a permanent impairment rating (PIR). In Florida, workers’ compensation law requires medical providers to use the 1996 Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule as opposed to other states that may use other criteria to calculate and assign a PIR.
To many injured workers a PIR means that they are disabled and the number reflects their level of disability. For example, if they have a 10% disability, they are 90% of a whole person. Other people get upset when they are told they have a 3% PIR following a knee surgery as they feel they are more disabled than 3%. Both of these viewpoints are incorrect.
A PIR is simply a number that is assigned to an injured worker that equates to a dollar amount the workers’ compensation carrier must pay. This sum is considered by workers’ compensation to fairly and adequately compensate an injured worker for the period after they have been release (or placed at MMI) until they find a new job. In reality, PIRs often do not bridge the gap.
To calculate an injured workers’ PIR, the authorized medical provider will review the 1996 Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule, pick out the areas that apply to your injuries and assign a number.
The PIR corresponds to a certain period of weeks of checks the injured worker will receive Impairment Income Benefits (IIB’s). The law states that the number of weeks that the IIB’s will be paid is as follows:
- 2 weeks of checks for every percentage from 1-10%;
- 3 weeks of checks for every percentage from 11-15%;
- 4 weeks of checks for every percentage from 16-20%; and
- 6 weeks of checks for every percentage from 21% and up.
- (It skips the 5 weeks level)
If you are assigned a 3% PIR, you will get paid 6 weeks of IIB’s. The process of that calculation is explained below as:
- 2 weeks x 3%=6 weeks.
If you were assigned a 16% PIR you would get 39 weeks of IIB’s as follows:
|The first 10%||2 weeks x 10 (first 10% of 16%)=20 weeks|
|The next 5, from 11%-15%||3 weeks x 5 (percentage 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 of 16%)=15 weeks|
|The final 1% from 16-20%||4 weeks x 1 (remaining 1 percent of the 16%)=4 weeks|
The actual dollar amount you are paid is determined by taking 75% of the injured worker’s compensation rate (which is the same as what would be paid if the injured worker was placed on a “no-work” status and paid TTD benefits), or two-thirds of the AWW. If the injured worker has returned to employment at the time the PIR is assigned and is making at least 80% of their AWW, the IIB’s are reduced by another 50%. If the injured worker is making less than 80% of their pre-injury AWW, the IIB’s are not reduced by 50%.
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