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Benefit calculations for disabling workplace injuries

Before moving on from our discussion of compensation for disabling workplace injuries, let's take a look at how much workers can potentially expect to receive in the form of a cash Schedule Loss of Use award. The information is general in nature only, and not intended as specific legal advice.

The New York State Workers' Compensation Board calculates SLU awards according to a formula defined by state law. The formula is based in part on the percentage of loss in the injured body part. As we discussed last week, a doctor will need to indicate this percentage in an opinion filed with the Board.

Another factor is your workers' compensation rate, which is two thirds of your average weekly rate of pay. Finally, the calculation is based on the number of weeks of compensation allowed for the injured body part. This is a set number, also defined in the law.

As an example, let's say that a crush injury permanently damages your leg. Your doctor reports to the Board that you have lost 75 percent of your ability in that leg. The law allows 288 weeks for a completely lost leg. Therefore, 75 percent of 288 leaves you with 216 weeks.

You earn $750 per week, which means that your workers' compensation rate is $500 (two thirds of $750). $500 multiplied by 216 is $108,000. This is the cash payment you would receive as an SLU award.

We hope this illustrates for our readers the importance of their doctor's opinion, which is an area where an insurer's doctor can offer a contradictory opinion and potentially reduce your compensation. A legal professional with experience in workers' compensation can help if you have questions or concerns about your eligibility for an SLU or the calculation underlying your award amount.

Source: New York State Workers' Compensation Board, "Understanding Your Schedule Loss of Use Award," accessed on Oct. 31, 2015

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