Can you explain the different kinds of disability benefits provided under Iowa Worker's Compensation Law?

Temporary Total Disability (TTD): If employee has a work injury resulting in more than three days of disability then on the fourth day they are entitled to TTD benefits until the employee has returned to work or similar employment. The three-day waiting period becomes payable if the disability period is longer than fourteen days.

Temporal Partial Disability (TPD): These are benefits that are paid if an employee returns to work doing a job for less pay due to his or her work injury. The TPD benefit must be 66 2/3 % of the difference between the employee's average gross weekly pay at the time of the injury and the employee's current lesser pay. The three-day waiting period is also a requirement for TPD.

Healing Period (HP): While an employee is healing from an injury that caused a permanent impairment, he or she may be entitled to HP benefits starting the first day of disability until the one of the following occurs: 1) The employee comes back to work and it has been medically determined that significant improvement of the injury is not expected; or 2) The employee is medically able to return to work performing a very similar job that he or she was doing at the time of the injury. It is important to note that no waiting period applies to HP benefits.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): The employee may be entitled to PPD when a work injury results in a permanent disability. PPD benefits are in addition to the HP benefits and begin at the end of the healing period. There are two different kinds of PPD benefits:

 1) Scheduled Member Disabilities—This is when a scheduled body member (i.e. arm, leg, hand, eye, etc.) is involved in the permanent partial disability and is based on loss of use. There is a value (in number of weeks of benefits payable) for each member.  

2) Unscheduled (Body as a Whole) Disabilities—This is when a work injury results in a permanent disability to the employee, but the injury is not a scheduled member. It is considered an industrial disability and is compensated based on the percent that the disability reduced the employee's earning capacity. It often involves injury to the back, neck, shoulder, or hip. There are many factors involved in determining industrial disability. There are no specific guidelines indicating how each of the factors are to be considered when figuring benefits. An experienced Worker's Compensation lawyer can provide you guidance concerning this.

Permanent Total Disability (PTD): If an employee is incapable of returning to work because of their work injury, then the employee may be entitled to PTD benefits. These are paid as long as the employee is permanently totally disabled.

Second Injury Fund Benefits: An employee has a PPD to one major body member (hand, arm, foot, leg, or eye) and sustains a PPD because of a workplace injury to a second major body member. The employee may be entitled to benefits from the “Second Injury Fund.” Contact the State of Iowa's Treasurer's Office for a claim form.

Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits: The Iowa Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) aids individuals with disabilities to find and keep employment. Benefits of $100 per week (up to 13 weeks) may be given to employees actively participating in a vocational rehabilitation program. An additional 13 weeks may be paid if approved by the Worker's Compensation Commissioner.

Death Benefits: In Iowa, family members are entitled to death benefits if an employee’s death is a result of a work-related injury under the Iowa Workers' Compensation laws. A surviving spouse is entitled to benefits for the remainder of her life or if remarries, for an additional 2 years after that remarriage. Children are entitled to benefits to the age of 18 unless they are actually dependent beyond the age of 18 and then those benefits can continue under certain circumstances. If a child is in college, they can receive benefits up to the age of 25. Physically or mentally incapacitated children can receive benefits for the time they remain physically or mentally incapacitated. Depending upon the number of dependents (spouse and children), the Iowa Workers' Compensation benefit would be split in some fashion.

In addition to weekly benefits for the decedent’s family, employers are responsible for burial expenses and medical expenses as a result of the injury and death.

If there are no dependents then the only benefits that are provided are medical expenses caused as a result of the Iowa work injury and burial expenses.