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 Nebraska 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 Nebraska workers’ compensation claim.)
In Nebraska, temporary total disability benefits are paid when an employee needs time off work while being treated for a work injury. The first seven days of missed work are not paid unless you need more than six weeks off work.
Benefits for temporary total disability are two-thirds of your average weekly wage. However, you cannot receive more than a maximum amount set by law each year. For 2017, the maximum weekly benefit is $817 per week.
If you’re able to work during this time, but you are earning less due to your injury, you can receive temporary partial disability benefits. These benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your wages before your injury and what you’re able to earn now, subject to the same weekly maximum mentioned above. Temporary partial benefits are paid for a maximum of 300 weeks.
When your condition is no longer expected to improve significantly, your doctor will evaluate you for a permanent disability. If you are found to be permanently and totally disabled, you will continue to receive weekly payments at your temporary total rate for as long as you are disabled. The permanent and total disability category is reserved for workers with serious injuries that leave them unable to hold any type of gainful employment.
If you have a permanent impairment but are not totally disabled, you may be eligible for a permanent partial disability award. Nebraska has two types of permanent partial awards: loss of member and body as a whole.
Nebraska workers’ comp pays for a permanent loss of use of certain body parts—such as the arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, and toes. The award is two-thirds of your average weekly wage (subject to the state maximum), for a number of weeks determined by a state schedule. For example, the schedule lists a total loss of use of a foot at 150 weeks. If you have a partial loss of use of that body part, you will receive a proportionate number of weeks. For example, a 10% loss of use of the foot is worth 15 weeks of payment (10% of 150 weeks).
If you have a permanent impairment of a body part not mentioned on the schedule, you will be eligible for a body as a whole award. To calculate your weekly rate, multiply your percentage of disability by two-thirds of your average weekly wage (subject to the state maximum). You will receive benefits for 300 weeks, minus any weeks for which you have already received temporary or permanent disability benefits.
Example: You have a back injury that leaves you 20% disabled as to the body as a whole and your average weekly wage is $900. Your weekly rate would be two-thirds of $900, which is $600, multiplied by 20%—which amounts to $120 per week. If you already received 30 weeks of temporary total disability benefits, your award would be for 270 weeks (300 - 30).
Nebraska 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.)