If you are totally or
partially disabled from working due to a job injury, or if you have a
permanent impairment, you will be entitled to receive workers’
compensation weekly benefits.
There Are Three Kinds of Money Benefits
“Temporary Total Disability” or TTD
— If you are unable to work due to your injury, you will receive a
weekly benefit check equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
You can receive this payment up to 400 weeks from your date of accident.
For accidents occurring on or after Jul. 1, 2013, the cap on the TTD
weekly benefit is $525. For accidents occurring before Jul. 1, 2005, see
the chart in the Appendix I to determine the cap on the date of your
“Temporary Partial Disability” or
TPD — If your work abilities are restricted due to a work
injury and you are working in a lighter duty job for your employer or
someone else and as a result have a loss of income, you will receive a
weekly benefit equal to two-thirds of the difference between your
average weekly wage before the accident and your weekly wage on the
lighter duty job. You can receive this payment up to 350 weeks from the
date of your accident. For accidents occurring on or after Jul. 1, 2013,
the cap on the TPD weekly benefit is $350. For accidents occurring
before Jul. 1, 2013, see the chart in the Appendix I to determine the
cap in effect on the date of your accident.
“Permanent Partial Disability” or
PPD — If you are injured, you may receive an “impairment
rating” or percentage of disability from your doctor in accordance with
American Medical Association guidelines. If you receive such a rating
and are not otherwise receiving TTD or TPD, you are entitled to receive
PPD benefits. PPD weekly benefits are equal to the payment you would
receive for TTD. However, the number of weeks you can receive the
benefits depend on the percentage of impairment and the body part
affected. For example, if you have a permanent loss of use of your right
arm but continue to work at your full wage, under workers’ compensation
rules you could receive 225 weeks of benefits at the total disability
rate, which is your PPD benefits. If your physician states you have only
a 10 percent impairment to your arm, rather than a total loss of use,
you would be entitled to 22.5 weeks of PPD benefits.
Q1. Once my weekly benefit starts, how
often will I receive a disability check?
Generally, disability benefits must be paid
once a week. If the payments are being issued from within Georgia, so long
as the check is postmarked by the last day of the seven-day pay period, it
is considered timely. If issued from out of state, the check must be
postmarked not later than three days before the end of the seven-day pay
Q2. Am I entitled to a late fee if the
employer/insurer does not pay my weekly disability check in a timely
Yes. If the check is not mailed on time, the
employer/insurer must pay you a 15 percent late penalty. Your disability
checks may not arrive the same day each week. The check must be mailed
within the weekly time period, but it may be mailed on any of several
Q3. Can I recover compensation for my
pain and suffering or the mental distress I have suffered?
An injured employee is not entitled to
compensation for his or her pain and suffering, mental distress, or other
items for which people injured in non-work-related accidents may receive.
This was a key reason for workers’ compensation laws: to protect a covered
employer from these claims.
Q4. What if my injuries prevent me
from ever being able to return to work? Will my benefits stop after 400
The disability benefits will usually stop at
400 weeks whether you can return to your employment or not. However, some
people have injuries that are so severe they are considered
“catastrophic.” Catastrophic injuries include spinal cord injuries
resulting in partial or total paralysis, amputations of an arm, hand, foot
or leg involving loss of the appendage, severe brain injuries, second- or
third-degree burns over 25 percent of the body or third-degree burns over
5 percent or more of the face or hands, and total blindness. Catastrophic
injuries may include other injuries that are so severe that the injured
worker could qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If your
injuries are designated catastrophic, there is no limit on the number of
weeks you can receive weekly benefits.
Q5. As a result of me being injured,
my spouse has taken time from work to take care of me. Can I receive
You as an injured worker will not receive any
additional money benefits. If the treating physician states you need home
health care, your spouse may be entitled to payment for caring for you as
a “home attendant.”
Q6. Is my spouse or children entitled
to receive anything for my work-related injuries under workers’
Except in death cases, family members are not
entitled to receive anything for “loss of consortium” or similar claims
when a spouse or parent suffers a loss due to a work injury. The weekly
benefits described in this section are the only funds the law requires
your employer and its insurance company to pay directly to the injured
The exclusive remedy bar also applies to family members. They are not
permitted to sue the employer or insurer. (See “Workers’ Comp-Your Sole
Remedy” at page 12).
Q7. How is my average weekly wage
Your “average weekly wage” (“AWW”) is
calculated by taking the total of all wages, salary, bonuses, sick pay,
vacation pay and certain benefits (such as meal allowances) you were paid
by the employer for the 13-week period just before your date of accident
and dividing this amount by 13. This amount is based on your gross wage
and not on your net or take home pay.
Q8. What if I was on the job less than
13 weeks when the accident occurred?
In some instances, the insurer may use the
average weekly wage of a co-employee who was performing a similar job with
the same employer. If there are no similar co-employees, then the insurer
should use the employee’s agreed full-time wage. For example, if the
employee is hired to work 40 hours per week at $11 per hour, the average
weekly wage is $440.
Q9. What if I had taken time off from
work without pay during the 13-week
Georgia law states that to use the 13-week
method, the injured worker must have worked “substantially the whole” of
the 13 weeks. If you only worked nine weeks during the 13-week period, for
example, the insurer should use the average weekly wage of a similar
co-employee or your full-time wage if there are no similar co-employees.
Q10. I was injured after the holidays
when we were very busy and I worked a lot of paid overtime and also
received a Christmas bonus. Is the overtime and bonus included?
Yes. AWW includes any compensation you
received from your employer, including wages, overtime, commissions and
Q11. What if I worked more than one job during the 13-week period?
If you worked for more than one employer doing similar jobs during the 13
weeks before the accident, the wages and other compensation you received
from each job should be included in your average weekly wage. This is
called “concurrent similar employment.” (See “Second Jobs and Side
Businesses” at page 51).
Q12. Am I entitled to review the
calculation of my average weekly wage?
Yes. If you are paid less than the maximum
benefit rate, the insurer is required to send you a “Wage Statement” with
a weekly breakdown of your wages for the 13-week period.
Q13. Are any of the money benefits from
workers’ compensation taxable?
No. The weekly disability benefits of TTD, TPD
and PPD are not subject to state or federal taxation. Your employer or the
insurer should not deduct tax payments and you do not have to declare the
income from your workers’ comp claim. Consult with your tax preparer for
Q14. I receive a base salary plus commissions.
Because of my injury I have not been able to meet with potential
customers, so even though my base salary is the same I have had a drop in
my commissions. Can I be compensated?
If you can show that your wage loss was due to
your work injury or its restrictions, you are entitled to receive TPD
benefits for the loss in income due to lower commissions.
Q15. Does my weekly benefit check ever
No. Unless there is an error in its
computation, the amount of your TTD weekly check is fixed as of the date
of your accident and does not increase, even for inflation. If your weekly
benefit is capped at the maximum rate in effect on the date of your
accident and the cap goes up, your benefit check will not increase.
Q16. Does my weekly benefit check ever
Possibly. If your doctor releases you to
limited duty, but your employer does not have work for you, your employer
or their insurer has the right to send you a written notice that in one
year your benefit will be lowered from your total disability rate to the
temporary partial disability rate cap in effect on your accident date.
Your benefit amount will decrease even though you are not working.
Q17. My employer has a wage continuation plan
that pays me if I am sick or injured and unable to work. The plan will
continue my salary for up to 12 weeks. How will this affect my benefits if
I am off work due to my work injury?
If your employer pays your full salary
pursuant to a wage continuation plan, they do not have to pay workers’
comp disability benefits at the same time.
Q18. I have received workers’ compensation
benefits for over a year and things have gotten difficult for me
financially. I need extra funds to pay bills and to stop the creditors
from threatening to repossess my automobile. Can I receive extra money to
help in this situation?
If you have received weekly benefits for at
least 26 weeks, you may petition the State Board for an advance payment in
a specific sum. If the State Board determines that it is in your best
interest to prevent extreme hardship or is essential to your
rehabilitation, the Board will order the insurer or self-insured employer
to pay the amount requested or some other amount.
Sometimes, it is possible to negotiate an advance payment with the
insurance company without having to file a formal petition with the State
Board. If an advance payment is made, the insurer is entitled to be repaid
the advance plus 5 percent interest per year from future disability
benefits, usually PPD benefits.
This is not a settlement of the case and
should not otherwise affect your entitlement to medical care or disability
Q19. What is a case settlement?
Sometimes it is appropriate to settle your
workers’ compensation case, which usually means your claim will be closed
in return for a lump-sum payment. Closing the claim means terminating any
further right to receive disability benefits, medical care or other
benefits to which you are or may be entitled.
Determining what your claim is “worth” for
settlement involves an analysis of your future needs and the exposure
faced by the employer/insurer. This is not a simple task. If the adjuster
offers you a settlement, you should check with a qualified attorney.