When a work injury causes an injured worker to be unable to perform work of the same character or nature of the job the worker was doing, the worker is entitled to Temporary Total Disability (TTD). TTD is calculated as 2/3 of their Average Weekly Wage (AWW), which is derived from the earnings history for the 52 weeks immediately prior to the work injury. TTD is due until either the worker returns to work or the injuries reach a state of maximum medical improvement.
However, if the injury results in the worker being able to perform work within temporary restrictions, the employer may offer the injured worker work within those restrictions. If the worker earns less than the AWW while performing the temporary light duty job, temporary partial disability (TPD) is due. TPD is calculated as 2/3 of the difference between your AWW and the amount you actually earn while on light duty.
We see TPD as the forgotten benefit. When the insurance company hears that the injured worker has returned to temporary light duty work, they seldom ask if there is any partial wage loss. If you are injured at work, and return to temporary light duty work, you are entitled to TPD if you are earning less that your AWW for any given week.
Here are two examples:
Joe’s AWW is $700, so his TTD rate is $466.67. Joe is being treated for his injury and has been taken off work completely, so he receives $466.67 a week in TTD benefits (after satisfying the 7-day waiting period).
Mary’s AWW is $700, and which includes regular overtime. Her TTD rate is also $466.67. Her hourly rate is $10 and she averages 20 hours of overtime a week. She is still treating, but her doctor has released her to work with restrictions. Her employer offered her a light duty assignment that accommodates those restrictions and pays the same hourly wage but is only 40 hours a week. Her light duty weekly wage is $400, which is less than her rate of TTD. So, she is entitled to 2/3 of the difference between $700 (her AWW) and her actual earnings ($400). The difference is $300 making her TPD benefit $200 for this week.
Both workers in the examples above had the same AWW and TTD rates, but because the intent of TPD is to prevent an injured worker from being penalized for returning to work as quickly as possible, the worker who returned to a light duty assignment earned more per week than did the injured worker who was off work completely. It should be noted that the amount a worker earns on light duty often varies week to week, so the calculation will also vary and TPD may not be due every week.