If you have experienced a work-related injury or illness in Missouri, the state's workers' compensation system offers a number of important benefits, including coverage of your medical bills and weekly payments to help make up for part of your lost earnings. The amount of those benefits will largely depend on the nature and severity of your injuries. But this article explains the basic rules in Missouri for calculating temporary and permanent disability benefits.
(To get these benefits, you must report your injury to your employer right away—and no later than 30 days after you were injured or were diagnosed with an occupational disease
Can You Get Workers' Comp Benefits in Missouri for COVID-19?
You might be able to get workers' comp benefits if you were infected with COVID-19 at work. Under Missouri law, employees are eligible for benefits when they contract a contagious disease because of their jobs. In order to prove that the illness is an occupational disease, you'll generally need medical evidence showing that distinctive conditions of your work probably caused the illness.
If your job in health care, emergency response, or congregate care settings puts you in direct contact with infected patients, it should be easier to provide that kind of medical evidence than it would be for most workers. And under an emergency rule that's effective during Missouri's pandemic-related state of emergency, you won't necessarily need evidence to support your claim if you're an EMT, firefighter, or law enforcement officer. As long as you're infected with COVID-19 or quarantined because of possible exposure or symptoms, the state will presume that you have a work-related occupational disease unless your employer proves otherwise with clear and convincing evidence.
If your doctor says that you aren't able to work—or can only work with restrictions—while you're being treated for your on-the-job injuries, you may receive temporary disability benefits to cover a portion of your lost wages.
You won't receive these benefits for the first three business days off work, unless you can't work at your regular job for more than 14 days. Temporary disability benefits will continue until:
If you're completely unable to work while you're recovering, you're entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits equal to two-thirds of your average weekly earnings before you were injured or became ill, up to a maximum amount that changes every July.
The TTD cap is calculated as 105% of the statewide average weekly wage at the time of your injury. For injuries that happened between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, the maximum TTD benefit is $1,011.92 a week. There's also a minimum amount for these benefits ($40 a week).
You can't receive TTD benefits for more than 400 weeks.
If your doctor says you can return to work with restrictions (such as light duty), you may be able to receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. These benefits are calculated as two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wages and the amount you're able to earn with "reasonable diligence," in light of the nature and extent of your injury and your ability to compete in the open labor market.
The maximum and minimum rates for these benefits are the same as for TTD, but the longest time you can receive TPD benefits is 100 weeks.
Once you've reached MMI, your doctor will evaluate your condition to determine if you have any permanent disability as a result of your work injury or illness, and if so, to what extent.
If the medical evidence shows that you're completely disabled on a permanent basis, you may receive permanent total disability benefits at the same rate as TTD benefits (with the same maximum and minimum) for as long as you're unable to work—potentially for the rest of your life.
In addition to these benefits, workers' comp will pay an additional amount if your permanent disability resulted from a specific occupational disease resulting from toxic exposure, including mesothelioma and black lung disease.
You will be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits if your doctor finds that you have permanent impairments that are only partially disabling. The amount of these benefits is also calculated at two-thirds of your pre-injury wages, but the maximum is only 55% of the statewide average weekly wage at the time of your injury. For injuries that happened between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, that translates into a maximum benefit of $530.05 per week. The length of time you'll receive these payments depends on the extent of your disability and the affected part of your body.
Like many states, Missouri has a schedule that lists the duration of PPD benefits for permanent disability to certain body parts, including the extremities, ears, and eyes. If you've had an amputation or completely lost use of a listed body part, you'll receive payments for a number of weeks that's 10% over the number listed in the schedule. If you've lost partial use of a listed body part, the duration of your benefits will be in proportion to the percentage of lost use.
Example: The schedule lists 232 weeks of loss of an arm at the shoulder. If your arm was amputated, you would receive PPD benefits for 255.2 weeks (232 + 10%). If you lost 50% of the use of your arm, the benefits would last for 116 weeks (50% of 232).
Missouri publishes the complete schedule online, along with the maximum PPD and TTD benefit amounts for current and previous years.
If you have a permanent disability to a part of your body not listed on Missouri's schedule (such as to your back, neck, or internal organs), doctors will give you a permanent impairment rating, expressed in a percentage. If multiple parts of your body are affected, they will be combined to give you a whole body impairment. There's a 400-week maximum on these unscheduled benefits; the DWC will generally award benefits for a period of time in proportion to the extent of your disability.
If your head, neck, hands, or arms were permanently disfigured as a result of your work injury, you may receive an additional award that the DWC considers fair, but no more than 40 weeks' worth of compensation.
In addition to temporary and permanent disability benefits, other types of workers' comp benefits are available in Missouri, including:
If your workers' comp claim has been denied, or the insurance company isn't coming through with the benefits you're entitled to receive, it would be smart to speak with a qualified Missouri workers' comp lawyer. An experienced attorney can evaluate your claim and help you receive all of the compensation you deserve under Missouri law. You can also talk to an attorney about whether it makes sense to agree to a lump-sum settlement in your workers' comp case. (Learn more about what a good workers' comp lawyer can do for you and what to look for in a workers' comp attorney.)