Understanding the difference between these two types of disability benefits can help you know your options after suffering a workplace injury or illness.

Both total and partial disability benefits are designed to protect your wages when you are injured or fall ill due to work-related circumstances. However, one is far more common than the other.

Workers can qualify for payments to replace the wages they would earn had they not been injured, developed a work-related illness that limits their ability to do their jobs, or been otherwise disabled.

However, there is virtually no federal standard in this regard. While programs exist throughout the nation, there is variability in how workers are compensated for their injuries depending on their jurisdiction. With the exception of Texas, every state requires that employers carry disability insurance on their workers. However, the types of disability benefits can vary by state.

Types of Disability Benefits

Disability benefits take one of four structures:

Looking at the Impairment Itself: “About nineteen states use this approach to compensate for an unscheduled permanent partial disability,” explains the Social Security Administration. “In approximately fourteen of those states, the worker with an unscheduled permanent partial disability receives a benefit based entirely on the degree of impairment. Any future earnings losses of the worker are not considered.”

Loss of Earning Capacity: This method requires a forecast of what the disabled worker would have earned had he or she not been injured. Around thirteen states use this method.

Wage-loss: Benefits are based on the actual wages the person lost by being unable to work. Roughly ten states use this approach, most commonly in cases of temporary disability.

Bifurcated Approach: This method looks at the worker’s condition after his or her injury has stabilized. It prevails in nine jurisdictions.

The Differences Between Permanent Total vs. Partial Disability Benefits

There are differences relating to how disability is defined:

  • Permanent total disability means that you are completely disabled as a result of your injury or work-related illness and can no longer work in the capacity for which you were trained.
  • Permanent partial disability is more common. This type of disability makes up over 50% of workers’ compensation claims. Permanent partial disability means that the worker is still able to function in his or her chosen work, but not at full capacity.Common examples of permanent partial disability include back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, amputation, hearing loss, and vision damage.

Focus on South Dakota

South Dakota identifies five types of workers’ compensation. For our purposes, we will discuss temporary total and temporary partial disability.

  • Temporary Total Disability: In this case, the worker needs to be completely incapacitated for seven consecutive days or longer.
  • Temporary Partial Disability: This type of disability benefit is payable until a worker recovers his or her full work capacity after a work-related illness or injury.

However, in both temporary total and temporary partial disability, the impact of the illness or injury is temporary. South Dakota also acknowledges permanent total and permanent partial disabilities, meaning that the prognosis of your condition is not expected to change, so you are compensated up to the remainder of your life. The state also allows that you would be paid disability benefits at the temporary total rate while undergoing vocational rehabilitation.

When you are injured or ill, the last thing you or your family wants to deal with is a complicated claims process. Another thing that you should have to worry about is insurance bad faith. If the insurance companies are treating you unfairly, we can help. Call Turbak Law Office at 866-231-0914 for information on hiring a South Dakota workers’ compensation lawyer or an insurance bad faith lawyer. We can answer your questions about insurance bad faith and make sure that you get the benefits you deserve.