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Workers' Compensation Glossary

Do you know what an AWW is? How about TTD? TPD? PPD? PTD? It seems as though workers' compensation practitioners are sometimes speaking a language all their own. Do you understand what they are saying? While workers' compensation statutes may vary significantly from state to state, there are some common concepts which can generally be considered as equivalent in any jurisdiction, although the actual method of calculating the ADW, SSDI offset or PT entitlement may be different in each state. The following is a glossary of some common workers' compensation terms.

Average Daily Wage (ADW): The ADW is a calculation of an injured employee's average daily earnings and is sometimes used to determine entitlement to wage loss benefits following an injury, particularly where the AWW would not be an accurate representation of the employee's earnings.

Average Weekly Wage (AWW): The AWW is another method which may be utilized in calculating entitlement to wage loss benefits. The average earnings, by week, for a fixed period of time are calculated and wage loss benefits are computed according to that amount.

Independent Medical Examination (IME): In many situations, an employer and insurance company will want to have an injured employee seen by a particular physician in order to obtain on objective evaluation of the employee's health. An employee may initially be seen by a company physician, or a physician of their own choosing, However, if litigation commences over the extent of the employee's injuries (or whether the employee has any injury at all), the employer and insurer will likely be entitled to require the employee to appear for an IME with a physician of their choosing.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): PPD benefits are payable, in most jurisdictions, to an employee who has sustained a permanent, but not complete, disability. Many state statutes have pre-set values for a host of different PPD injuries involving specific body parts or conditions.

Permanent Total Disability (PTD): PTD benefits are available if an injured employee is permanently and totally disabled from work.

Physical Therapy (PT): Many injured employees are entitled to receive physical therapy as a form of medical treatment to recover from injuries. On forms, or in medical records, you may see a reference to "PT." That is short for "physical therapy."

Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI): SSDI benefits are payable to disabled individuals through the Social Security Administration. Many state workers' compensation statutes have specific provisions which dictate whether an injured employee may receive both workers' compensation benefits and SSDI benefits at the same time. Generally, if both benefits are appropriate for the same individual, a complex calculation will be performed to "offset" the benefits so that the individual does not receive more money than they are entitled to from both programs.

Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW): The statewide average weekly wage is a computation of average wages paid to workers in a jurisdiction for a set period of time and is generally used to calculate the minimum, and maximum, amounts of workers' compensation benefits that an injured employee will be entitled to receive.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD): TPD benefits are payable when an injured employee is able to work despite their injury. The benefits are available only for a limited period of time, in recognition of the fact that the employee will recover fully enough in the future that they will be able to resume employment without a wage loss.

Temporary Total Disability (TTD): TTD benefits are available to employees whose injuries leave them totally unable to work for a period of time. The benefits are no longer payable when the "temporary" disability clears and the employee is able to resume working. In some states, if the employee must return to work at partial hours or at a wage loss while his disability resolves he may be entitled to payment of TPD benefits after receiving TTD benefits.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR): Vocational rehabilitation generally includes a melting pot of services that are offered to injured employees to help them return to work following a work injury. VR may involve transferable skills assessments, educational courses, job search assistance, and many other vocational aids. Vocational rehabilitation is sometimes also referred to as "occupational rehabilitation."

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