Injured workers in Connecticut are eligible for a series of workers' compensation benefits. Your benefits will vary, depending on the nature of your injuries, your ability to work, and other factors. Below is a general outline of how workers' comp benefits are calculated in Connecticut. (To receive these benefits, you will need to file a workers' compensation claim and show that your injury or illness is work related.)
Can You Get Workers' Comp Benefits for COVID-19 in Connecticut?
During the height of the coronavirus surge in Connecticut in the spring of 2020, the state made it easier for essential employees to qualify for workers' comp for COVID-19. Under an executive order (No. 7JJJ), the state presumed that these employees qualified for workers' comp benefits (unless the employer proved otherwise) if they missed work due to a diagnosis or symptoms of the disease from March 10 to May 20, 2020.
While that presumption no longer applies, you can still file a workers' comp claim if you believe that you contracted COVID-19 on the job. But most employees will find it very difficult to qualify for benefits. That's because Connecticut law defines an occupational disease as one that's distinctively associated with a particular occupation and is the result of hazards above and beyond the risks faced by workers in general. First responders and certain healthcare professionals who interact with COVID-19 patients are more likely to meet that standard than most other employees.
You may be able to receive temporary disability benefits if you can't work or earn as much as you used to while you're recovering from your injury or illness. Connecticut has a three-day waiting period before these benefits begin, unless you're completely or partially unable to work for more than seven days.
Temporary disability benefits continue until either you can return to work at your full wages, or your doctor has determined that you've reached "maximum medical improvement" (MMI)—which means your condition has stabilized, and you aren't likely to improve even with further medical treatment. (Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 301-295, 301-307 (2020).)
While you're unable to perform any type of work during your recovery, you're entitled to receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits equal to 75% of your pre-injury average weekly wages (after taxes are taken out), up to a maximum that's based on the statewide average weekly wages during the year when you were injured or became ill. (For injuries between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, the maximum is $1,328.) There's also a minimum: 20% of the maximum benefit, as long as it's no more than 75% of your pre-injury wages. (Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 301-307(a), 301-309 (2020).)
You may also receive some benefits if you're partially incapacitated during your recovery—for instance, if you can only work part time, or you can't do the same type of work as before your injury. Temporary partial disability benefits are equal to 75% of the difference between the current after-tax wages for the kind of work you did before your injury and your actual take-home pay, up to a maximum that's based on the statewide average for manufacturing workers ($1,158 for injuries between October 2019 and September 2020). (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 3-308(a) (2020).)
For example, if you used to take home $750 a week but now can earn only $350 after taxes, you would receive $300 per week in temporary partial disability benefits ($750 - $350 = $400 x .75 = $300).
Once you've reached the MMI stage, your doctor will determine whether you have any permanent disability as a result of your injury or illness—and if so, to what extent.
You may be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits if, as a result of your work-related injury or illness, you‘ve lost some use of a part of your body that's listed a schedule in Connecticut law. The schedule is very comprehensive, covering a wide variety of body parts (including organs) and sensory functions (like vision and hearing).
The amount of PPD benefits will depend on how much function you've lost, as well as your pre-injury wages. The weekly rate is the same as for TTD (75% of your after-tax, pre-injury earnings), but the maximum is the same as for partial temporary disability. There's also a $50 minimum for PPD benefits.
If you've lost all use of the body part (or had an amputation), these PPD benefits will last for the number of weeks shown in the schedule. For partial loss of use, the benefits will last for a number of weeks that's proportional to the percentage of your disability. For instance, if you've completely lost the use of your dominant hand, you'll receive the weekly benefits for 168 weeks. But if you've lost 50% of that hand's function, the benefits will last for 84 weeks. (As part of a workers' comp settlement, you could agree to receive the total amount of these benefits in a lump sum, minus a small discount.)
You may also receive up to 208 weeks of compensation (at the same rate) if your injury left you with permanent disfigurement or significant scarring on your face, head, neck, or any part of your body that would hinder your ability to find work. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-308(b), (c) (2020).)
Once your PPD payments end, you might be eligible for additional discretionary benefits if that's warranted, given the nature of your injury and its effect on your earning capacity. These benefits are equal to 75% of the difference between the current after-tax pay for the type of job you held before your injury and what you're probably able to earn now. The amount of your current earning capacity will be based on various factors, including your education, training, and experience, as well as the availability of work for people of your physical condition and age.
The duration of these additional discretionary benefits will be based on those same factors, but they may not last longer 520 weeks or the duration of your regular PPD benefits, whichever is less. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-308a (2020).)
If your injury or illness has left you completely unable to do any type of work, even after you've reached MMI, you may continue to receive benefits at the same level as TTD benefits, subject to the same maximum and minimum. These benefits will last as long as you're totally disabled—potentially for life—and will include annual cost-of-living adjustments.
Connecticut workers' comp law will consider you to be permanently and totally disabled if you have certain kinds of injuries, such as total blindness and amputation or paralysis in two extremities. (Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 31-307, 31-307a (2020).)
Connecticut workers' compensation also pays other benefits, including :
You might be able to handle your own workers' comp claim if you have a minor injury and your employer's insurance company promptly pays your benefits. Otherwise, you should speak with a workers' compensation lawyer who can evaluate your claim and protect your right to all of the benefits you deserve. (Learn more about when you need a workers' comp attorney.)