Scheduled Injury Benefits

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)

Welder

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides a schedule of permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits for certain body parts.

Under section 8(e) of the Act, these body parts (or members) are assigned a certain maximum number of weeks of PPD benefits at the injured worker’s PPD rate. The maximum number of weeks correspond with the physical loss of (amputation) or the permanent and complete loss of use of the body part. If the worker suffers a partial loss of use of the body part, a percentage loss of function of the maximum number of weeks is assigned.

Section 8(e) of the Act provides:

For accidental injuries in the following schedule, the employee … shall receive … compensation for a further period for the specific loss herein mentioned, but shall not receive any compensation under any other provisions of this Act. The following listed amounts apply to either the loss of or the permanent and complete loss of use of the member specified, such compensation for the length of time as follows…

820 ILCS 305/8(e) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

The maximum number of weeks of PPD for scheduled losses varies based on the date of accident. The following maximum values only apply for dates of accident on or after February 1, 2006. For earlier dates of accident, the Workers’ Compensation Act can be referenced directly. 820 ILCS 305/8(e) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

Thumb: 76 weeks

First, or index finger: 43 weeks

Second, or middle finger: 38 weeks

Third, or ring finger: 27 weeks

Fourth, or little finger: 22 weeks

Great toe: 38 weeks

Each toe other than great toe: 13 weeks

Hand: 205 weeks

Arm: 253 weeks

Foot: 167 weeks

Leg: 215 weeks

Eye: 162 weeks

Loss of hearing of one ear: 54 weeks

Total and permanent loss of hearing of both ears: 215 weeks

Testicle: 54 weeks

Both testicles: 162 weeks

820 ILCS 305/8(e) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

There are a number of exceptions and additional rules regarding the above values that can be found below in the further reading section of this article.

The Illinois Supreme Court has discussed the fairness of scheduled losses and its preference for wage differential benefits if available:

Scheduled awards are often not fair. For example, partial loss of use of a finger may be an annoyance to some workers, but a catastrophe for a violinist. Nor are scheduled allowances always fast and certain. It is often easier to calculate how much a claimant’s earnings have decreased since the accident than to assign a percentage partial loss of use. Exclusive scheduled awards cannot be justified as a kind of liquidated damages, an unchallengeable estimate of earnings loss. Rather, the schedule represents a presumed minimum loss, looking toward the uncertainties of future employment prospects. The law recognizes that the loss of a body part will probably catch up with a worker sooner or later, even if his current work happens to be only slightly impeded by the injury. The worker is allowed to recover the scheduled amount without having to demonstrate how the expected eventual loss of earnings will come about. If, however, he can prove an actual loss of earnings greater than the schedule presumes, there is no reason why he should not recover that loss. In theory, the basis of the workers’ compensation system should be earnings loss, not the schedule.

General Electric Co. v. Industrial Commission, 89 Ill. 2d 432 (1982) Google Scholar.

Calculating the PPD Rate

Generally, the injured worker’s PPD rate is equal to 60% of their average weekly wage. However, this is subject to minimum and maximum rate rules.

The PPD rate for section 8(e) scheduled injury benefits is set forth in section 8(b)2.1 of the Act:

The compensation rate in all cases of … permanent partial disability … under paragraph (e) of this Section shall be equal to 60% of the employee’s average weekly wage computed in accordance with the provisions of Section 10, provided that it shall be not less than 66 2/3% of the sum of the Federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act, or the Illinois minimum wage under the Minimum Wage Law, whichever is more, multiplied by 40 hours.

This percentage rate shall be increased by 10% for each spouse and child, not to exceed 100% of the total minimum wage calculation, nor exceed the employee’s average weekly wage computed in accordance with the provisions of Section 10, whichever is less.

820 ILCS 305/8(b)2.1 Illinois General Assembly | IWCC PDF.

In addition to the minimum benefit rate above, section 8(b)4 sets forth a maximum rate:

The maximum weekly compensation rate, for the period July 1, 1984, through June 30, 1987, except as hereinafter provided, shall be $293.61. Effective July 1, 1987 and on July 1 of each year thereafter the maximum weekly compensation rate, except as hereinafter provided, shall be determined as follows: if during the preceding 12 month period there shall have been an increase in the State’s average weekly wage in covered industries under the Unemployment Insurance Act, the weekly compensation rate shall be proportionately increased by the same percentage as the percentage of increase in the State’s average weekly wage in covered industries under the Unemployment Insurance Act during such period.

820 ILCS 305/8(b)4 Illinois General Assembly | IWCC PDF.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission publishes a benefit rate page on its website to help make sense of these provisions. These published rates reflect:

  1. the date of accident or occupational exposure; and
  2. the total number of children under 18 and/or spouse (on the date of accident or occupational exposure).

Minimum PPD Rates

The minimum PPD rate is the lower of the injured worker’s average weekly wage or the published rate on the Commission’s website. In other words, the minimum rate rules do not allow injured workers to receive weekly PPD benefits greater than their average weekly wage.

As the benefit rate page notes, the PPD rate minimums are the same as the TTD rate minimums.

For example, Commission’s website shows the following minimum PPD rates (under Temporary Total Disability) for accidents occurring between January 1, 2017 and July 14, 2017, based on the total number of children under 18 and/or spouse:

0 – $220.00

1 – $253.00

2 – $286.00

3 – $319.00

4 – $330.00

If the claimant’s average weekly wage was $400.00, the first step to calculate the base PPD rate would be to multiply $400.00 by 60% (.60), which is equal to $240.00.

If this claimant was not married and had no children, the base PPD rate of $240.00 would apply because it is greater than the minimum of $220.00.

But if this claimant was married with 1 child (2 total under the table), the minimum rate of $286.00 would apply because is greater than $240.00.

If, however, the claimant’s average weekly wage was $300.00, the base rate would be $300.00 multiplied by 60%, which is equal to $180.00.

If this claimant was not married and had no children, the minimum published rate of $220.00 would apply.

If this claimant was married with 1 child, the minimum published rate of $286.00 would apply.

But if this claimant was married with 2 children (3 total under the table), the minimum published rate of $319.00 would not apply because it is greater than the average weekly wage of $300.00. In this case, the average weekly wage of $300.00 would be the weekly PPD benefit rate.

Maximum PPD Rates

The maximum PPD rate rules are much easier because there is simply one maximum rate that applies to all cases in a given time period.

For example, for accidents or occupational exposures occurring between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, the maximum PPD rate is $775.18 per week. This means that all workers whose average weekly wage is above $1,291.96 will receive PPD benefits equal to the maximum rate of $775.18.

The maximum PPD rates for other periods is available on the benefit rate page and listed under “PERMANENT PARTIAL DISABILITY IF NOT AMPUTATION OF A MEMBER OR ENUCLEATION OF AN EYE.”

Calculating the Percentage Loss of Use

Once the PPD rate is determined, the section 8(e) scheduled benefit is calculated by multiplying the rate by the maximum number of weeks allowed for the body part. 820 ILCS 305/8(e) Illinois General Assembly | IWCC PDF.

Workers’ compensation practitioners and the Commission will typically look to prior decisions in setting the percentage loss in PPD cases. However, new rules are changing how recent cases are decided.

Section 8.1b of the Act provides, for injuries occurring on or after September 1, 2011, that the Commission shall base its determination of the level of permanent partial disability on the following five factors:

  1. the permanent partial disability impairment report (AMA impairment rating);
  2. the occupation of the injured employee;
  3. the age of the employee at the time of the injury;
  4. the employee’s future earning capacity; and
  5. evidence of disability corroborated by the treating medical records.

820 ILCS 305/8.1b Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

Section 8.1b further provides that “[n]o single enumerated factor shall be the sole determinant of disability. In determining the level of disability, the relevance and weight of any factors used in addition to the level of impairment as reported by the physician must be explained in a written order.” 820 ILCS 305/8.1b Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

Further reading:

820 ILCS 305/8(e)8 (“The loss of the first or distal phalanx of the thumb or of any finger or toe shall be considered to be equal to the loss of one-half of such thumb, finger or toe and the compensation payable shall be one-half of the amount above specified. The loss of more than one phalanx shall be considered as the loss of the entire thumb, finger or toe. In no case shall the amount received for more than one finger exceed the amount provided in this schedule for the loss of a hand.”) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

820 ILCS 305/8(e)9 (the maximum number of weeks for a hand is reduced to “190 weeks if the accidental injury occurs on or after June 28, 2011 (the effective date of Public Act 97-18) and if the accidental injury involves carpal tunnel syndrome due to repetitive or cumulative trauma, in which case the permanent partial disability shall not exceed 15% loss of use of the hand, except for cause shown by clear and convincing evidence and in which case the award shall not exceed 30% loss of use of the hand.”) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

820 ILCS 305/8(e)9 (“The loss of 2 or more digits, or one or more phalanges of 2 or more digits, of a hand may be compensated on the basis of partial loss of use of a hand, provided, further, that the loss of 4 digits, or the loss of use of 4 digits, in the same hand shall constitute the complete loss of a hand.”) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

820 ILCS 305/8(e)10 (“Where an accidental injury results in the amputation of an arm below the elbow, such injury shall be compensated as a loss of an arm. Where an accidental injury results in the amputation of an arm above the elbow, compensation for an additional 15 weeks (if the accidental injury occurs on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 94th General Assembly but before February 1, 2006) or an additional 17 weeks (if the accidental injury occurs on or after February 1, 2006) shall be paid, except where the accidental injury results in the amputation of an arm at the shoulder joint, or so close to shoulder joint that an artificial arm cannot be used, or results in the disarticulation of an arm at the shoulder joint, in which case compensation for an additional 65 weeks (if the accidental injury occurs on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 94th General Assembly but before February 1, 2006) or an additional 70 weeks (if the accidental injury occurs on or after February 1, 2006) shall be paid.”) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

820 ILCS 305/8(e)12 (“Where an accidental injury results in the amputation of a leg below the knee, such injury shall be compensated as loss of a leg. Where an accidental injury results in the amputation of a leg above the knee, compensation for an additional 25 weeks (if the accidental injury occurs on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 94th General Assembly but before February 1, 2006) or an additional 27 weeks (if the accidental injury occurs on or after February 1, 2006) shall be paid, except where the accidental injury results in the amputation of a leg at the hip joint, or so close to the hip joint that an artificial leg cannot be used, or results in the disarticulation of a leg at the hip joint, in which case compensation for an additional 75 weeks (if the accidental injury occurs on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 94th General Assembly but before February 1, 2006) or an additional 81 weeks (if the accidental injury occurs on or after February 1, 2006) shall be paid.”) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

820 ILCS 305/8(e)13 (“Where an accidental injury results in the enucleation of an eye, compensation for an additional 10 weeks (if the accidental injury occurs on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 94th General Assembly but before February 1, 2006) or an additional 11 weeks (if the accidental injury occurs on or after February 1, 2006) shall be paid.”) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

820 ILCS 305/8(e)16 (provides additional rules regarding partial loss of vision and hearing) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

820 ILCS 305/8(e)17 (“In computing the compensation to be paid to any employee who, before the accident for which he claims compensation, had before that time sustained an injury resulting in the loss by amputation or partial loss by amputation of any member, including hand, arm, thumb or fingers, leg, foot or any toes, such loss or partial loss of any such member shall be deducted from any award made for the subsequent injury. For the permanent loss of use or the permanent partial loss of use of any such member or the partial loss of sight of an eye, for which compensation has been paid, then such loss shall be taken into consideration and deducted from any award for the subsequent injury.”) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

Outboard Marine Corp. v. Industrial Commission, 309 Ill. App. 3d 1026 (2000) (“When loss of use is found, benefits are generally calculated as a percentage of the benefits of total loss of the member.”) Google Scholar | Illinois Courts.

This article does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.