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What is Total and Permanent Disability in SC?

Workers' compensation in SC pays benefits for as long as 500 weeks, or for life in some cases when you suffer a total and permanent disability.

What is a total and permanent disability? Who decides whether an injury has resulted in total and permanent disability or partial disability?

More importantly, what are the available benefits for a total and permanent disability in SC? Do I have to take periodic payments, or can I opt for a single lump sum payment?

If you have been hurt on the job and suspect you have a total and permanent disability, be aware that the workers' compensation insurance company will probably do everything they can to not pay you total and permanent disability benefits.

You may need to have your own, independent medical experts give a second opinion, and it is critical that you contact an experienced Myrtle Beach workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible who can help you to put together the medical evidence you need, present it to the Commission, and appeal any adverse decisions.

What is Total and Permanent Disability in SC?

SC Code Section 42-9-10 defines "total and permanent disability" in SC as a severe injury such as the loss of both hands, arms, shoulders, feet, legs, hips, or eyes:

(B) The loss of both hands, arms, shoulders, feet, legs, hips, or vision in both eyes, or any two thereof, constitutes total and permanent disability to be compensated according to the provisions of this section.

Note that you are totally and permanently disabled if you have lost two or more of any combination of the body parts listed above. If you lose both hands, you qualify for total and permanent disability. Also, if you lose one hand and one foot, you qualify for total and permanent disability in SC.

What is the Two-Injury Rule in SC?

The "two-injury rule" in SC does not automatically result in total and permanent disability, although it can if you have lost the use of two or more of the body parts listed above.

Ordinarily, workers' compensation benefits in SC are paid based on the part of your body that was injured. In some cases, you can receive additional benefits when more than one body part is injured.

You may be able to receive additional benefits based on the combined effect of both injuries, or, if you have completely lost the use of both hands, arms, shoulders, feet, legs, hips, eyes, or any combination of two or more of those body parts, you may qualify for total and permanent disability.

Who Decides if I'm Permanently Disabled?

You will be evaluated by the insurance company's doctor, who will make a decision as to the extent of your disability. In many cases, you may need to also get an opinion from your own doctor - someone who does not depend on the insurance company for their livelihood...

If the insurance company's doctors agree that you are totally and permanently disabled, an independent doctor may not be necessary. On the other hand, if the insurance company claims you are not permanently disabled but your doctor disagrees, the Commission may need to hear the evidence from both sides before making a determination about the extent of your disability.

How Much Does Total and Permanent Disability Pay in SC?

In addition to medical expenses, permanent and total disability payments in SC will pay 66 and 2/3 percent of your average weekly wages:

(A) When the incapacity for work resulting from an injury is total, the employer shall pay, or cause to be paid, as provided in this chapter, to the injured employee during the total disability a weekly compensation equal to sixty-six and two-thirds percent of his average weekly wages, but not less than seventy-five dollars a week so long as this amount does not exceed his average weekly salary; if this amount does exceed his average weekly salary, the injured employee may not be paid, each week, less than his average weekly salary. The injured employee may not be paid more each week than the average weekly wage in this State for the preceding fiscal year. In no case may the period covered by the compensation exceed five hundred weeks except as provided in subsection (C).

Compensation for total and permanent disability in SC is capped at 500 weeks in most cases. In some cases, however, you may be eligible for lifetime benefits.

How Long Do Total and Permanent Disability Benefits Last in SC?

Although total and permanent disability benefits are capped at 500 weeks for most people, workers' compensation will pay lifetime benefits for any person who is a paraplegic, quadriplegic, or has suffered brain damage as a result of their injuries:

(D) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 42-9-301, no total lump sum payment may be ordered by the commission in any case under this section where the injured person is entitled to lifetime benefits.

An award of lifetime benefits can have consequences, however - what happens if you want to receive your settlement in a lump sum payment instead of benefits paid over time?

Can I Receive My Total and Permanent Disability Payment in a Lump Sum?

Most permanent and total disability benefits are paid in a lump sum settlement, reduced to the present value of the future payments. When a person is entitled to lifetime benefits, however, SC law prohibits a lump sum settlement:

(D) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 42-9-301, no total lump sum payment may be ordered by the commission in any case under this section where the injured person is entitled to lifetime benefits.

If you are entitled to lifetime benefits based on the severity of your injuries, you will receive regular payments of 66 and 2/3 of your average weekly wages for the remainder of your lifetime.

Got Axelrod?

If you have suffered the loss of two or more body parts in an on-the-job injury, you may be entitled to compensation for up to 500 weeks. In some cases, you may be entitled to lifetime benefits.

It is critical that you contact a SC workers' comp attorney as soon as possible - your workers' comp attorney on the Axelrod team will help you to gather and present the medical evidence that is needed to maximize your recovery and to appeal any adverse decisions by the Commission.

Call now at (843) 916-9300 or send a message online to speak with a SC worker's compensation lawyer today.

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