What is Permanent Impairment in Oregon Workers' Compensation?
Permanent Impairment (which is often called PPD for short) is a financial award for a disabling work injury.
Although there is no pain and suffering compensation in Oregon workers' compensation, there is some compensation owed to an injured worker when their injury is permanently disabling. This compensation is called Permanent Impairment or PPD.
PPD is not something that is negotiated or proven with testimony. It is decided by the measurable impairment findings of the attending physician when the injury is medically stationary. The impairment findings are then assigned a percentage based on how disabled the injured worker is. An additional percentage amount may be added for loss of regular use of a body part or for a surgery. Although the percentages are combined together, they are not actually added. There is a formula that combines the different percentages of impairment types to come up with a "whole body" percentage. This combined percentage is then multiplied by Oregon's Average Weekly Wage to come up with the award amount.
The percentage amounts are determined by the Oregon Workers' Compensation statutes which specify the percentage of impairment for every type of disability.
The insurance company must calculate an injured worker's PPD and then pay it when a claim is medically stationary. The PPD award will be set out in a Notice of Closure which will be mailed to the injured worker, the doctor, and his or her attorney.
This is a complicated system, so let me give an example:
An injured work has a L4-5 herniated disc for which she needed surgery. When she is medically stationary, her attending physician determines she has lost 5 percent of the range of motion of her low back. She also has a slight loss of sensation due to the surgery, which equals another 2 percent. The surgery (because it affected two spine levels of the back) equals another 10 percent. These percents are combined to equal 15 percent "whole body" impairment (remember the percentages are combined using a formula, not added).
This 15 percent impairment is multiplied by $888.38 (Oregon's Average Weekly Wage as of July 1, 2014) for a total impairment award of $13,325.70. This amount is the PPD award.
Lump Sum and Taxes
It is good to remember that you may always request your PPD award be paid in a lump sum and that the award is tax-free.
Workers' Compensation Attorney
If you have questions about a PPD award or a Notice of Closure, it is always a good idea to have an attorney review it for you. I am happy to review a Notice of Closure free of charge. Just give me a call at (503) 975-5535.