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How Long Does Workers’ Comp Last in Illinois?

Written by Ankin Law Office

How long workers’ compensation lasts, and the amount received, depends on the type of injury, benefits, work, and average weekly wages you would have received had you not been injured. In Illinois, workman’s compensation is governed by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Injury benefits for police officers are governed by the Illinois Pension Code. Railroad workers receive work injury benefits under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. Waterway workers receive workplace accident benefits under the Jones Act.

Four Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act

There are four types of workers’ compensation benefits under the IWCA: (1) Permanent Total Disability, (2) Permanent Partial Disability, (3) Temporary Total Disability, and (4) Temporary Partial Disability. A work injury lawyer, can help the injured worker determine what form of benefits he or she is entitled to receive. An evaluation by a workers’ compensation attorney helps ensure the victim received the maximum amount of workers’ compensation.

Permanent Total Disability

Permanent Total Disability (PTD) applies where a worker is completely and permanently unable to work. PTD is presumed if the worker loses the use of both legs, arms, eyes, hands, or feet, or a combination of two body parts (e.g., the worker loses the use of both legs, or one leg and one arm).

If an Illinois worker is awarded compensation for a permanent total disability, the worker should be qualified to receive benefits for life. The amount of weekly benefits received in the case of PTD is 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wage; however, this amount cannot be less than (a) 66 2/3% of the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 40 hours per week, or (b) 66 2/3% of the Illinois minimum wage multiplied by 40 hours.

Permanent Partial Disability

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) is where a worker permanently loses the use or partial use of a body part (e.g., hand or leg), or loses the partial use of his or her body.

Four Types of Permanent Partial Disability Benefits

In the realm of PPD, there are four types of benefits: (1) Wage Differential Benefits, (2) Scheduled Loss-of-Use Awards, (3) Nonscheduled Injury Awards, and (4) Disfigurement Benefits.

Wage Differential Benefits

Wage Differential Benefits were created to cover a percentage of the difference between the worker’s pre-and post-injury wages. For example, if the worker suffers from a permanent partial disability and can return to work but takes on a position that pays less, then the worker may be able to receive up to two-thirds of the difference between the workers’ pre-and post-injury wages.

If a worker is awarded Wage Differential Benefits, he or she is eligible to receive these benefits for 5 years or until the worker reaches age 67, whichever occurs later.

Scheduled Loss-Of-Use Awards

Scheduled Loss-of-Use Awards are determined by a schedule in the Illinois workman’s comp law. Under the Illinois schedule, a worker is provided with worker’s compensation based on the affected body part. For example, if the work injury causes the worker to lose the use of an arm, then the worker may be entitled to workers’ compensation equal to 253 weeks of the worker’s weekly wages.

Nonscheduled Injury Awards

Nonscheduled Injury Awards are provided to injured workers who experienced a permanent disability that is not listed on the Illinois schedule. The amount of compensation can be up to 60% of the worker’s pre-injury wages per week. This amount is multiplied by the disability index, which is the percentage of weeks out of 500 weeks that represents the total disability.

Disfigurement Benefits

Under Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation law, disfigurement benefits may be awarded to workers who suffer “serious and permanent disfigurement” to certain body parts (such as the head, face, or neck). The amount of disfigurement benefits may equal up to 60% of the worker’s pre-injury wages multiplied by up to 162 weeks.

Temporary Total Disability

A worker may be eligible for Temporary Total Disability benefits if the worker is completely unable to perform his or her pre-injury job, but the disability is considered temporary. These benefits may continue until a doctor determines that the worker has achieved the maximum level of medical improvement given the injury. The total amount of weekly benefits may be up to two-thirds of the worker’s pre-injury weekly wages.

Temporary Partial Disability

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) is appropriate where the worker suffers a work injury that results in the temporary, partial loss of use of the worker’s body. TPD is awarded if, for example, the worker may be able to return to work during the recovery period but must do so on a light-duty or part-time basis.

The amount of TPD is based on two-thirds of the worker’s pre-injury, weekly wages and continues until a doctor determines that the worker has fully recovered possible and is able to return to work. In this context, “fully recovered” does not necessarily mean that the worker has achieved his or her pre-injury status; rather, “fully recovered” means that the worker has recovered to the extent to which a doctor determines the worker is able.

Special Workers’ Compensation Claims Based on Occupation or Location

There are special rules for injured workers who are employed as firefighters, Chicago police officers, waterway workers, or railroad workers.

Members of a Fire Department

In Illinois, if a firefighter who works for a fire department in a city that has a population of more than 500,000 suffers a serious and permanent disfigurement (as discussed above), he or she is only eligible for compensation for disfigurement resulting from burns. Other work injury benefits may be available, however.

Police Officers in Chicago

Police officers who are employed in Chicago are not eligible for the workers’ compensation benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Instead, police officers employed in the city of Chicago are eligible for (a) ordinary disability benefits, (b) duty disability benefits, or (c) occupational disease benefits under the Illinois Pension Code.            

Ordinary Disability Benefits

A Chicago police officer may be eligible for ordinary disability benefits if the police officer is less than 63 years of age and becomes disabled. The disability must not have been caused by an on-the-job injury, and the disability must result in the police officer not receiving a salary for longer than 30 days.

The ordinary disability benefit amount typically cannot exceed the total compensation he or she received during one-fourth of his or her time serving as a police officer prior to the disability. There is a 5-year cap on the amount of time during which the police officer served on the police force for the purpose of calculating ordinary disability benefit amounts.

Duty Disability Benefits

A Chicago police officer is eligible for “duty disability benefits” if the officer becomes disabled due to an injury that occurred while on-duty or performing an “act of duty.” The amount of duty disability benefits available to injured police officers depends on things such as:

  • the percentage of total disability,
  • the length of time that the police officer has been employed as a policeman,
  • his or her ability to receive a salary during the period of disability

Occupational Disease Benefits

A Chicago police officer may be eligible for occupational disease benefits if the police officer has served for at least 10 years, suffers a heart attack or other disabling heart disease, and is not eligible for duty disability benefits.

The occupational disease benefit is equal to 65% of the salary of the rank held by the police officer at the time that he or she was removed from the payroll. The benefit is paid during the period of disability until age 63 or mandatory retirement age, whichever is later; however, once the police officer is not considered disabled, then he or she is ineligible for occupational disease benefits.

Illinois Railroad and Waterway Workers

Disability benefits are available to eligible railroad workers under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. Under this Act, the injured employee must prove that the employer’s negligence caused the injury. If he or she overcomes this burden, however, the worker may be entitled to enhanced benefits, including up to 100% of lost wages and other compensation.

Under the Jones Act, waterway workers are required to prove that his or her employer’s negligence caused the injury. If successful, the worker may be entitled to a daily allowance while he or she recovers, lost wages, and other compensation.