Under Virginia workers’ compensation employees who are injured in a work accident or who are diagnosed with an occupational disease are eligible for wage loss benefits. These wage loss benefits are supposed to provide the injured worker with a wage comparable to what they had earned before the injury. Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are the most common form of wage loss benefits in Virginia workers’ compensation. They are available when you are unable to return to work because of your work-related injuries or occupational disease.

An injured employee’s right to temporary total disability benefits is one of the most frequent issues disputed in Virginia workers’ compensation claims. We recommend contacting an experienced Virginia workers compensation lawyer after your work accident so that you can begin building your case and obtain the TTD benefits you deserve.

This article explains the ins and outs of temporary total disability in Virginia work comp. Call or e-mail us today if you have any questions about your claim or are looking for representation.

Why Are They Called Temporary Total Disability Benefits?

I get many calls from injured employees who are concerned by the use of the word “temporary” with their benefits.

Their treating physician has said they’ll be unable to return to any type of work for a few months, and will likely have to change to a light duty job for the rest of their lives. That doesn’t sound “temporary” to them.

Do not let the word “temporary” concern you. You can receive temporary total disability benefits for a long time under Virginia workers’ compensation. The word “temporary” is used in contrast to “permanent” disability benefits. In addition to TTD benefits, an injured employee in Virginia may be entitled to two forms of permanent disability benefits: permanent partial disability benefits for loss of use loss of use or function of the injured body part and permanent and total disability when they’re unable to return to any type of substantial gainful employment.

How Long Can I Receive TTD Benefits and Get Paid under Virginia Workers' Compensation?

Many injured employees suffer permanent limitations and restrictions because of their work accidents. In most Virginia workers’ compensation cases, however, you can only receive 500 weeks of TTD benefits. This may seem like a long time, but it in an inadequate amount of benefits if you suffer permanent wage loss because of your work-related injuries or occupational disease.

How Do I Get Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits in Virginia Workers' Compensation?

Before you can even think about receiving temporary total disability benefits in Virginia you must first prove that you sustained an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of your employment or an occupational illness. In other words, you must prove that your work accident or occupational illness is covered under the law. Just because you’re hurt at work does not mean that you can receive Virginia workers compensation benefits.

If the insurance company accepts your workers’ compensation claim, or if you prove that your accident is covered after a workers’ comp trial, there are two ways that you can receive temporary total disability benefits in Virginia. Both ways involve an examination of the medical evidence.

  • Your treating physician restricts you from all type of work because of the injuries you suffered in the work accident. The work restriction note should state “no work.” If it is ambiguous or says you can perform some type of work, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission may find that you’re capable of light duty.
  • Your treating physician has restricted you to light duty work that prevents you from returning to your pre-injury employment.

Receiving light duty restrictions is not enough to qualify for temporary total disability benefits. You must also look for work within your restrictions and satisfy the Commission’s Guidelines on Looking for Light Duty Work to obtain TTD benefits.

Sometimes your doctor’s work restriction notes may be ambiguous. You won’t know whether your doctor is restricting you to light duty work or taking you out of all work. And your phone calls go unanswered. My advice is to look for work anyways. The Commission won’t punish you for conducting a good faith job search to receive TTD benefits. This serves as an insurance policy of sorts if your claim goes to hearing.

Winning temporary total disability benefits under workers’ compensation when your treating physician has restricted you to light duty is more difficult than receiving temporary total disability benefits when you are restricted from all work. The insurance company will dispute your entitlement to wage loss benefits and force you to prove that you conducted a job search in good faith. It is rare that the insurance company will agree that your job search satisfied the law’s requirements. Richmond workers compensation lawyer Corey Pollard has helped hundreds of injured employees prove that they satisfied the Commission’s job search requirement.

How Do I Calculate Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits in Virginia Workers' Compensation?

Section 65.2-500 of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act talks about temporary total disability benefits. It states:

when the incapacity for work resulting from the injury is total, the employer shall pay, or cause to be paid … to the injured employee during such total incapacity a weekly compensation equal to 66 2/3% of his average weekly wages, with a minimum not less than 25 percent and a maximum of not more than 100 percent of the average weekly wage …

Let’s take a look at Virginia’s TTD statute piece by piece.

First, you will not receive your full wages if you are unable to work because of a workplace accident or occupational disease. Your wage loss benefits for temporary total disability are limited to two-thirds of your earnings for the 52 week period prior to your work accident. This figure is known as your pre-injury average weekly wage.

Your pre-injury average weekly wage not only determines the value of your temporary total disability benefits, but also your Virginia workers compensation claim as a whole. You should contact an experienced Virginia workers compensation lawyer to help you fight for a favorable average weekly wage. You do not want to accept a low figure – this serves as the basis for almost every type of workers compensation benefit available in Virginia, including a workers compensation settlement.

You can calculate your average weekly wage using a variety of methods provided by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can evaluate which method is best, but usually your average weekly wage is equal to the amount you earned while working for the employer during the 52-week period prior to your injury.

What happens if you did not work for the employer for a full year before your work injury? Then the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission will use a different calculation to determine your pre-injury average weekly wage and temporary total disability benefits. Remember, the insurance company is looking out for its best interest, not yours. You need to evidence to prove why a higher average weekly wage makes sense.

What is the Maximum Amount of TTD Benefits You Can Receive in Virginia?

Those of you who are high wage earners are at a disadvantage under the Virginia workers’ compensation system. Why? Because you may receive less than two-thirds of your pre-injury average weekly wage after a work-related injury.

The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission sets maximum and minimum compensation rates each year. Authority to make these max and min comp rates is given to the Commission by Virginia Code Section 65.2-500(a), which also provides that the temporary total disability amount should be “not less than 25 percent and … not more than 100 percent of the average weekly wage.”

So, for example, those of you who sustained injuries in a 2014 work accident are limited to receiving TTD benefits in the amount of $967.00 per week, exclusive of cost of living adjustments. This means that if you made more than $1450 per week, you will receive less than 2/3 of your pre-injury average weekly wage if you are awarded temporary total disability benefits.

There is also a minimum compensation rate set each year. If you earn less than the minimum rate for the year in which you’re injured, or if 2/3 of your pre-injury average weekly wage is less than the minimum rate, you will receive the higher minimum rate amount. Sound confusion? It can be.

If these workers compensation rates seem low, that is because they are. Virginia workers’ compensation does not provide a windfall to the injured worker. We think that reform is needed badly. But that’s a discussion for a different day.

Unlike personal injury claims and some other types of lawsuits, temporary total disability benefits will not compensate you fully for your financial loss after a workplace accident. In fact you will likely face financial hardship because your temporary total disability benefits will equal less than your normal salary. This is precisely why you should retain an experienced workplace accident lawyer to help you evaluate all of your legal options and figure out a way to maximize your work injury claim’s value.

Temporary Total Disability Benefits When the Insurance Company Disputes Liability - How Soon after the Accident Will I Receive Workers' Comp Benefits?

If your employer and its insurance company accept that your workplace accident or occupational disease is covered under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act and that you are restricted from all work, then you will start to receive temporary total disability benefits shortly after the work accident. Do not, however, allow this to lull you into a sense of security. You should still file your claim for benefits.

Even if your entitlement to temporary total disability benefits is not disputed initially, you should still hire a workers’ compensation lawyer to protect your legal rights. Without an order from the Commission awarding you ongoing temporary total disability benefits, the employer and its insurer may arbitrarily cut off your benefits at any time. This puts you in a difficult financial situation.

If your employer and its insurer dispute liability, then your claim for temporary total disability benefits will go before a judge. At hearing, you must prove all elements of your claim because the injured worker has the burden of proof in Virginia workers’ compensation proceedings. Corey Pollard is a top-rated attorney for Virginia workers compensation hearings. Call him today.

Call Workers Compensation Lawyer Corey Pollard To Get The Temporary Total Disability Benefits You Deserve

If you were injured in a work-related accident, you probably have many things going through your mind: How are you going to pay your bills? And how will you pay for medical treatment? Call Corey Pollard, named a Rising Star by Virginia Super Lawyers Magazine, at 804-251-1620 or 757-810-5614. Or complete the form on the right hand side of the screen. He’ll focus on getting you temporary total disability benefits while you focus on your physical and emotional recovery.