COMMON WORKERS' COMPENSATION TERMS
Average Weekly Wage. Your average gross wages for a week. This is the gross amount before the taxes and everything else is taken out. It includes overtime and any other benefits received.
Comp Rate. Two thirds (2/3) of your Average Weekly Wage. There are no taxes paid on Workers' Compensation benefits. Taxes are not taken out on a weekly basis and you do not have to pay taxes on Workers' Compensation benefits at the end of the year.
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). Maximum medical improvement is when you are recovered from your injuries, or "as good as you're going to get." You have reached maximum medical improvement when you have finished with surgery, physical therapy, and any other treatment the doctor might prescribe for you. Your Workers' Compensation case usually won't be concluded until you reach MMI.
Impairment. When you have reached maximum medical improvement, your doctor may give you an impairment rating. This is a rating based on the functionality of your body. For example, a loss of 17% of use to your left leg. This impairment is not based on the ability to work, but the use or inability to use your body. Doctors give impairment ratings. Workers' Compensation is based on disability, not impairment.
Disability. Workers' Compensation benefits are based on disability and not impairment.
Disability in Workers' Compensation terms means a vocational disability. How does the injury keep you from doing your job? Depending on your age, health, work history, job restrictions, job requirements, education and other factors, the disability rating can be higher than the impairment rating.
Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). After you have reached MMI, there is a good chance that you will have a functional capacity evaluation. It is an intensive test of your ability to lift, bend, stretch, stand, sit, etc. Doctors often use the results of the FCE to determine your work restrictions.
Clincher. Depending on your medical situation at the end of the case, the Workers' Compensation system will be required to provide for ongoing treatment for your work-related injury. Even if the doctor does not order ongoing treatment, you can still request help f there has been a change in circumstances within the first year. By signing a clincher (settlement agreement), you will receive more money, but you will also forfeit all right to future medical treatment for your work-related injury.