In Oklahoma, injured workers are eligible for a series of benefits through workers’ compensation. Depending on the nature of your injury and your ability to work, you might receive disability benefits, medical treatment, and vocational retraining. (To receive these benefits, you must file an Oklahoma workers’ compensation claim.) Learn how Oklahoma workers’ comp benefits are calculated below.
If your injuries limit your ability to work for more than three days, you will be eligible for temporary disability benefits. In Oklahoma, you can receive either temporary total benefits or temporary partial benefits. The state sets a maximum temporary disability benefit each year ($596.03, as of September 2016).
If you’re unable to perform any type of work while recovering from your injuries, you will be eligible for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. TTD benefits are 70 percent of your average weekly wage (AWW), up to the state’s maximum benefit. You will continue to receive these benefits until you:
For most injuries, TTD benefits are paid for a maximum of 104 weeks. However, the following injuries have special time limits:
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits are paid to workers who can return to work, but at lower wages than normal. TPD benefits are 70 percent of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages. For example, suppose you earned $500 before your injury, but you are now working a light-duty job that pays only $350 a week. Your weekly TPD benefit would be $105 ($500 - $350 = $150; .7 x $150 = $105).
TPD benefits are paid until you return to work at your normal wages, until you reach MMI, or for a maximum of 52 weeks.
Once you reach MMI, you will be evaluated for a permanent disability. Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are paid to workers with debilitating injuries who are unable to do any work within their training and job experience. PTD benefits are 70 percent of your average weekly wage (AWW), up to the state’s maximum PTD benefit (as of September 2016, $851.47). PTD benefits are paid for 15 years or until you reach Social Security retirement age, whichever happens later.
If you have permanent limitations but can return to work, you may be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. Oklahoma pays PPD benefits for scheduled losses and whole body injuries. PPD benefits have a much lower maximum than other benefits. As of September 2016, the state’s maximum PPD benefit is $323. PPD benefits are paid on a weekly basis or as a lump sum.
A scheduled loss involves an amputation or the total loss of use of a body part listed in Oklahoma’s PPD schedule. You will receive 70 percent of your average weekly wage (AWW), up to the maximum PPD benefit, for the number of weeks stated in the schedule. The PPD schedule awards the following losses:
Other scheduled body parts include fingers, toes, and eyes. The entire schedule is available at the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission’s website.
All other permanent partial disabilities are compensated as a percentage of the whole body. This includes injuries to body parts not listed in Oklahoma’s schedule (such as the back or neck), as well as partial loss of use of body parts mentioned in the schedule. Once you reach MMI, your doctor will evaluate you and determine how much total body function you have lost (stated as a percentage). A whole body injury is based on 350 weeks.
Your whole body injury award will be:
2/3 of your AWW (up to state’s maximum) x % impairment x 350 weeks
For example, suppose you injured your neck—resulting in a 20% permanent impairment—and your pre-injury average weekly wage was $300. Your weekly rate would be $200 (66.67% of $300), multiplied by 70 weeks (20% of 350 weeks), for a total of $14,000.
Calculating your PPD award can be complicated, and Oklahoma is currently considering significant changes to its workers’ compensation law. If you have questions about how much you should receive, contact an experienced Oklahoma workers’ comp lawyer.
If an injury or illness results in death, the worker’s family may receive death benefits. Surviving spouses, minor children, and other dependents are eligible for a weekly benefit payment. This benefit amount varies, depending on the worker’s marital status and number of dependents, but cannot be more than the state’s maximum weekly death benefit (as of September 2016, $851.47). Additionally, the insurance company must pay a lump sum of up to $10,000 for funeral expenses. (To learn more, read our article on death benefits through workers’ comp.)