A work injury can cause major disruptions to your life—not only your health, but also to your career, finances, and overall well-being. The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is designed to compensate you for some of those losses and get you back to work as soon as possible. However, worker’s comp also limits the amount of money you can receive from your employer. This article explains the types and amounts of benefits that are available through workers’ comp. (To get these benefits, you will need to file a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim.)
In Massachusetts, temporary total incapacity benefits to workers who need to take more than five days off work due to their injuries. The first five days of disability are not paid unless you need more than 21 days off work. These benefits are available until:
Temporary total incapacity benefits are 60% of your average weekly wages. However, you cannot receive more than a maximum amount set by law each year. Massachusetts has a higher maximum than most states: As of October 1, 2017, the maximum benefit is $1,338.05 per week. (The cap is updated annually in October; you can find a list of the maximums at the website of the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents.)
Once your medical treatment is complete, your doctor will evaluate you for a permanent disability. If you are found to be permanently and totally disabled—meaning that you’re not able to do work of any kind—you will continue to receive weekly payments for as long as your disability continues. These benefits are two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to the same maximum as temporary total benefits.
If you’re able to work but you are earning less due to your injury, you can receive temporary partial incapacity benefits. These benefits are 60% of the difference between what your wages were before your injury and what you’re capable of earning after your injury. For example, suppose you normally earn $900, but you’re working a light duty job earning $300 per week. You could receive 60% of $600 ($900 - $300), or $360 per week. The maximum benefit is 75% of what your temporary total benefits would be.
Partial incapacity benefits are available until you are able to earn your normal wage or after five years of payments have been made. In cases of certain severe injury—such as 75% of loss of function in an eye or limb—payment can be extended for up to ten years.
Massachusetts workers’ compensation pays awards for permanent loss of function to certain body parts. The award is paid at the statewide average weekly wage, for a number of weeks determined by a state schedule. For example, the schedule lists a total loss of use of a leg at 39 weeks of payment. You would multiple 39 by $1,338.05 (the statewide average weekly wage as of October 1, 2017), to get an award of $52,183.95.
An additional award of up to $15,000 is available for scarring to the face, neck, or hands or for other bodily disfigurement.
Massachusetts workers’ compensation also provides additional benefits, including:
As you can see, workers’ compensation only pays of a portion of your lost wages. Workers’ comp also does not pay anything for the pain and suffering caused by your injury. While this may seem unfair, it is part of the trade-off that is the workers’ comp system. The advantage of workers’ comp is that you can get benefits relatively quickly without needing to file a lawsuit or prove that your employer was at fault for causing your injury. The downside is that you can’t get the full value of your losses. (However, in some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover pain and suffering and other losses. To learn more, see our article on suing outside of the workers’ comp system.)