Social Security Benefits document

Disability Benefits Guide

Following a work injury, workers may qualify for certain disability benefits. The following is a guide to the different types of workers' compensation disability benefits that injured employees may be able to receive in Iowa.

Workers' Compensation Temporary Disability Benefits

There are two types of workers' compensation temporary disability benefits: temporary partial disability and temporary total disability.

Temporary Partial Disability

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits are available to workers if an injury forces an employee take a position that pays less upon returning to work. The Iowa Workforce Division of Workers' Compensation states that the total benefit amount is 66 2/3% of the difference between the employee's average gross weekly earnings, pre-injury, and the employee's actual earnings when working in the new position post-injury. A three-day waiting period applies to this benefit.

Temporary Total Disability

If an employee is unable to work for over three calendar days because of an injury, that employee may qualify for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. These benefits will start on the fourth day and the employee will continue to receive them until he or she has either recovered from the injury enough to return to work. Employees may be able to receive payment for the three-day waiting period if they are unable to work for over 14 calendar days.

Workers' Compensation Permanent Disability Benefits

Like with temporary disability benefits, there are two types of permanent disability benefits under workers' compensation: total disability benefits and partial disability benefits.

Permanent Partial Disability

Iowa employees may be able to receive Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits if they're recovering from an injury that leaves them permanently partially impaired. Partially disabled workers can receive up to 500 weeks of benefits. The amount and duration of PPD benefits a worker is entitled to receive depend on which part of the worker's body sustained the injury.

Permanent Total Disability

Employees may be able to receive Permanent Total Disability (PTD) if they sustain an injury that permanently impairs them and renders them unable to return to work entirely. 

Body as a Whole Disabilities

Workers may sustain an injury that permanently damages a body part that isn't considered a scheduled member. Employees may be able to receive Body as a Whole Disabilities benefits in these instances, but this will depend on the employee's physical health, earning capacity, and emotional health before and following the initial incident. Other factors include the employee's age, motivation, and education level, along with work experience and qualifications that would enable them to learn other work tasks.

Because of the many factors involved, the process for determining whether an employee qualifies for these benefits is often complex.

Scheduled Member Disabilities

Employees who sustain an injury resulting in the loss or functional impairment of a part qualifying as a scheduled member may be eligible to receive Scheduled Member Disabilities. Parts defined as scheduled members include fingers, arms, hands, toes, feet, shoulders, and eyes. Injury victims may qualify for these benefits if they experienced total or partial hearing loss or any type of permanent head or facial disfigurement.

Healing Period

Healing Period (HP) benefits are available to employees when recovering from an injury that culminates in permanent impairment. Employees will be able to receive this on the first day after the accident or injury took place, eliminating the need to go through a three-day waiting period.

Other Types of Workers' Compensation Disability Benefits

Depending on the circumstances involved in a work-related incident and subsequent injuries, employees in Iowa or their loved ones may be eligible for other benefits. These benefits could include:

Second Injury Fund Benefits

Let's say an employee suffers permanent disability affecting his or her foot, leg, arm, hand, or eye and experiences a second work-related injury that causes permanent partial disability to another of those scheduled members. In some cases, that employee may qualify for Second Injury Fund benefits. Employees will only receive these benefits after the employer or the employer's insurer has covered any outstanding scheduled member permanent partial disability benefits resulting from the second scheduled member injury.

Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits

Certain workers may also be able to recover $100.00 every week for as long as 13 weeks. These workers must be actively involved in a vocational rehabilitation program that helps them regain or learn the skills needed to return to work after an injury.

Death Benefits

Dependents of workers who died due to a work-related injury may be able to receive death benefits. Surviving spouses may be able to receive these benefits until they remarry or for the rest of their lifetime. Meanwhile, children of workers who died on the job may be able to receive these benefits until they turn 18 or 25, based on their level of dependence.

The information in this guide to disability benefits is just that: information. The best way to protect your rights to workers' compensation disability benefits is to hire an experienced workers' compensation attorney. He or she can evaluate your claim and help you meet the important deadlines that apply to your case.

Any of these benefits may apply if a worker sustained a work-related injury that resulted in any kind of disability. An Iowa workers' compensation attorney may help injured workers further determine if employees or their loved ones qualify for these benefits. He or she can also help you avoid common mistakes when filing a workers' compensation claim.