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Recovering Specific Loss Benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act

Many Pennsylvania residents understand that if they are hurt at work, they can recover benefits for their lost wages due to their injury, as well as medical costs related to their treatment.  Another type of wage loss benefits, called “specific loss” benefits, may be paid to injured workers, even if they have not missed time from work following their injury.  Certain injuries are eligible for benefits and are set forth in the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.

Under the description of “partial disability,” the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry makes clear that employees who return to work or are medically capable of performing available work may be entitled to these types of benefits.  These wages will be lower than the employee’s earnings before the injury and are available for a maximum period of 500 weeks.  Under the Act, certain injuries may be eligible for specific loss awards.

Specific losses are covered under the Act and refer to the loss of a specific body part.   According to the Act, there is a set number of weeks you may receive payments, based on the body part that was lost. Benefits are also available to workers suffering from a permanent disfigurement or scarring to their head or face.  The amount of benefits that may be recovered depends on the specific body part that was injured.  Additionally, there is a “healing” period of anywhere from six to 10 weeks of benefits that an injured worker may be eligible to recover if they have missed time from work due to an injury.

To show eligibility for specific loss benefits, workers must show that they have had a particular part of their body amputated or that they have lost the functional use of that body part for all practical intents.  The loss must have occurred in the course and scope of the worker’s employment.  The worker must have reported the injury to their employer within a set period of time (120 days of the injury) and have filed their workers’ compensation claim within the statute of limitations.

To make a claim for a specific loss benefit, an injured worker will need to prove that they have lost the use of 50% or 100% of their body part. While the specific loss provision set forth in the Workers’ Compensation Act can be used by an employee to receive maximum benefits, employers can use the provision to limit benefits.  For example, if you have suffered the loss of a great toe but can return to work immediately despite the injury, you would still be entitled to recover the payment of benefits, although you did not miss work.  If your big toe injury prevents you from working after the period of specific loss benefits has run, the employer may try to limit your benefits to only that period.  To recover payments, you would need to prove there is a separate injury, apart from the specific loss, that is preventing you from working.

If you have suffered an injury to a specific body part and are now facing the loss of that body part, you can contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Needle Law for assistance with your claim for specific loss benefits.  We can be reached by calling 570-344-1266 or using our online form.  Our initial consultations are confidential and free.

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