Question: I’m looking at retiring in about 3 years ,i had a heart attack in dec 07 and had 3 stents put in at that time and another last year. I’m still employed as a deputy, after I receive my disability rating from my doctor which should be soon. Will I get a certain amount every month depending on the rating or how does this work?
The disability rating determines the amount of impairment benefits you receive. They are referred to as IB benefits and are discussed in Florida Statute 440.15.
These payments have nothing to do with receiving permanent and total disability payments under workers’ compensation or in-line of duty retirement pay.
Any injured worker, whether under the heart/lung bill or not, gets IB benefits when they reach maximum medical improvement and they have a permanent physical or mental impairment. Your treating doctor will use the Florida Impairments Guides, which is a book, to determine your percentage of impairment to the body as a whole.
You get paid 2 weeks of benefits for ratings between 1 and 10%; 3 weeks for ratings between 11 and 15%; and it goes higher from there.
These benefits are paid weekly, and they are paid at 50% of your compensation rate if you are still working and 75% of your compensation rate if you are not working. Your compensation rate is 2/3 of your average weekly wage.
So for example, let’s say you earn $600 a week and you are still working and you have a 4% impairment rating. Your compensation rate is $400 a week (2/3 of $600). So you will get 8 weeks of benefits (4% x 2weeks = 8weeks) at 50% of your compensation rate ($400/2 = $200) or $200 x 8 weeks = $1,600 paid in weekly installments of $200.
Sometimes the carrier opts to pay it in a lump sum, but these are really tiny payments unless you have a really high impairment rating, which is difficult under these guides.
Also, remember if you retire, you are not eligible for permanent, total disability benefits through workers’ compensation because your heart problem didn’t cause you to become unemployable. You retired. Now if your authorized doctor (or any doctor for that matter) tells you you can no longer work at all because of your heart, then you leave the force, we have a different kettle of fish.
So be prepared. Impairment benefits typically don’t amount to much.