If you were injured at work in Montana, you are eligible for a series of workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits might include disability payments, medical treatment, and job retraining. However, your eligibility for specific benefits will depend on the severity of your injury and your ability to return to work. Below, we explain how Montana calculates workers’ comp benefits. (To receive these benefits, you must first file a Montana workers’ comp claim.)
If you experience a wage loss while you are recovering from your injuries, you should receive either temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. These benefits are capped at the state’s maximum benefit rate ($756 as of July 1, 2016).
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are paid to injured workers who are completely unable to work for a period of time. In Montana, TTD benefits are two-thirds of your gross wages, up to the state’s maximum benefit. Benefits continue until you return to work or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI)—the point at which your doctor finds that your condition is unlikely to improve with further treatment.
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits are paid to workers who can continue to work while they are recovering, but at wages that are lower than normal. TPD payments will continue until you either return to work at your normal wages or reach MMI.
TPD benefits are the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages, but not more than your TTD rate. For example, suppose you earned $700 per week before your injury, but you are now working a light-duty job that pays only $350 a week. Your weekly TPD benefit would be $350 ($700 - $350 = $350.)
You will be evaluated for permanent disability benefits once you reach MMI. Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are paid to workers with very serious injuries who are unable to do any kind of work. PTD benefits are two-thirds of your gross wages and are capped by the state’s maximum benefit (in other words, the same as your TTD rate).
PTD benefits are paid until you reach the Social Security retirement age. Once you’ve received 104 weeks of benefits, you will be eligible for annual cost of living increases.
If you have permanent limitations but can still work in some capacity, you will be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. Unlike some states, Montana does not differentiate between “scheduled” and “unscheduled” benefits. Instead, your PPD benefit is based on the severity of your injury, the extent of your wage loss, and vocational factors (such as your age and level of education). As of July 1, 2016, Montana’s maximum PPD benefit is $378. You can receive a maximum of 400 weeks of PPD benefits.
Once you reach MMI, your doctor will examine you and assign an impairment rating (set as a percentage of lost function). Impairments are then categorized as either Class 1 or Class 2 impairments. If you have a Class 1 (a relatively minor) impairment, you can only receive PPD benefits if your injuries cause a wage loss. For Class 2 impairments, you will receive PPD benefits even if you do not have lost wages.
Montana’s PPD system is complicated, and most injured workers cannot calculate their PPD benefits without help. Contact an experienced Montana workers’ comp lawyer if you have questions about your PPD benefits.
If an injury or illness results in death, the worker’s family may receive death or survivors’ benefits for up to 500 weeks. Benefits are paid at the worker’s TTD rate (two-thirds of his or her gross wage), up to the state’s maximum benefit. There also is a minimum death benefit ($378 as of July 1, 2016). Additionally, the family may receive up to $4,000 for burial and funeral expenses.