Worker's compensation disability ratings range from 0 percent to 100 percent, although physicians may sometimes use terms such as "mild" and "total" in place of percentages, explains legal firm Segar & Sciortino. "Mild" generally equates to a 25 percent disability rating, "moderate" to a 50 percent rating, "marked" to a 67 disability rating and "total" to a 100 percent disability rating.
In most states, physicians refer to one of the several editions of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment when assigning disability ratings, reports Amaxx. However, states such as Utah, North Carolina, New York, Florida and Illinois require doctors to reference state-specific guides when establishing impairment ratings.
Disability ratings are not static; a physician may assign a 100 percent rating to a worker days after an injury and revise it to 25 percent several months later, notes Segar & Sciortino. For this reason, insurance companies compute compensation only after injured parties attain maximum medical improvement.
During the process of recovery, injured workers receive benefits known as temporary total disability benefits, states Amaxx. If, after recovery, workers have no impairment and are able to fully resume duty, insurance companies stop paying these benefits. Employees who get lasting disabilities that limit, but do not completely impair, their capacity to work receive permanent partial disability awards to compensate them for the partial loss of earnings. Workers who are injured so severely that they can never work again receive permanent total disability benefits.