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How to Get Workers’ Comp When You Have Pre-Existing Injuries

Written by Ankin Law Office

Workers with pre-existing, work-related injuries are still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through permanent partial disability payments.

Collecting Benefits for Pre-Existing Injuries

Workers with pre-existing injuries often have a difficult time performing normal job tasks. Old injuries can easily flare up from physical labor, over-exertion, and fatigue causing discomfort and pain. When this occurs, workers still have options for benefits.

If recovery for a pre-existing injury only allows partial ability to perform normal job tasks, a worker may still be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits through workers’ compensation. A physical exam and a physician’s statement is necessary to restrict job tasks, and a physician must issue a series of wellness tests to monitor the pre-existing condition.

In Illinois, the Workers’ Compensation Commission determines eligibility for all workers’ compensation claims and works with employers, workers, and work injury lawyers to settle claims and make payments for four different types of PPD benefits:

Wage Differential

Wage differential benefits apply to workers who get a new job due to a pre-existing injury from a previous job, and the new job pays less. The award is two-thirds of the difference between payments from the old job and payments from the new job. Once approved, wage differential benefits are paid for five years or until the worker reaches age 67, whichever comes later.

Schedule of Injuries

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act sets a value for certain body parts which dictates how many weeks of PPD benefits a worker can receive. The PPD weekly rate is 60% of a person’s average weekly wage. To calculate compensation, the percentage of loss in a body part is multiplied by a percentage in a table that calculates a PPD weekly rate.

Non-Schedule Injuries

If an injury is not listed in the PPD table, a worker may be eligible for a percentage of 500 weeks of benefits based on the loss of the person as a whole. The worker’s PPD weekly rate is multiplied by the number of weeks of benefits that will be received. A work injury lawyer can help with calculations for benefit payments of non-schedule injuries.


When an injury affects a worker’s face, head, neck, hands, arms, chest, or legs below the knees, the worker may be entitled to up to 162 weeks of benefits, if the injury causes serious or permanent disfigurement. The number of weeks is multiplied by 60% of the worker’s average weekly wage.

Categories: Work Injury