What type of benefits may be available to an injured worker?

1.  Temporary Total Disability (Section 34).

These benefits pay 60% of an employee's pre-injury gross average weekly wage (AWW).  As of October 1, 2019, the maximum amount of weekly compensation is $ 1,431.66.  This maximum amount is increased every October 1st and published by the Department of Industrial Accidents.  The maximum amount of time that an employee is eligible to receive these benefits is three years.

 

AWW is a member’s gross earnings for the year before the injury, divided by fifty-two weeks.  Although most teachers work fewer than fifty-two weeks, the Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that a teachers’ AWW is calculated by dividing gross yearly earnings by fifty-two and not by the actual weeks worked.  This ruling serves to lower the AWW of teachers.  (See Richard Herbst v. City of Worcester, 416 Mass. 648 (1993)).  If a member has a summer job, he or she may be able to add the wages of their teaching and summer jobs and then divide by fifty-two, provided they hold both jobs at the time of injury. This mechanism is called concurrent employment.

2.  Partial Disability (Section 35)

These benefits compensate a member to the extent his or her ability to earn wages is impaired but not totally destroyed.  A member on partial disability benefits cannot perform the job he or she held at the time of injury but is capable of earning some wages in either a light-duty or part-time position, or in alternative employment.  A member is assigned an earning capacity that considers how much he or she can earn in the open labor market in light of his or her age, education, background, training, and medical condition.  The higher the earning capacity, the lower the amount of partial disability benefits and vice a versa.  The maximum amount of time that an employee is eligible to receive these benefits is five years.  However, a member may only receive a total of seven years of temporary disability benefits (Section 34 benefits and Section 35 benefits combined).

3.  Permanent and Total Disability (Section 34A). 

These benefits pay 66 2/3 % of an employee’s AWW.  To obtain permanent and total disability benefits, a member must be permanently unable to perform any and all gainful employment.  A yearly cost of living increase is payable every October 1st. (See M.G.L. c. 152, Sec. 34B).

4.  Section 36 benefits.

  • Scarring.  A one-time payment for scarring on the hands, face or neck caused by an industrial injury.  The scar must be visible.  The amount of the award is determined by assessing the length and discoloration of the scar.

 

  • Loss of function.  A one-time payment for loss of function to a body part caused by an industrial injury.  The amount of the award is determined by the percentage loss of function opinion of a physician.

 

5.  Medical benefits (Section 13 & 30).

The Workers’ Compensation insurer is responsible for paying for medical treatment that is reasonable, necessary and causally related to a work-related injury.

  A.  Out of pocket expenses and miscellaneous expenses.  The Workers’ Compensation insurer is also responsible for paying for:

 

  • Round trip mileage to and parking at medical appointments;

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  • Co-payments for doctor visits;

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  • Prescriptions.