If you have been injured at work in Tennessee, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Depending on the nature of your injuries, you may be eligible for medical treatment, wage loss benefits, permanent disability, and other compensation. Below, we explain how workers’ compensation benefits are calculated in Tennessee.
In Tennessee, the following types of benefits are available through workers’ comp:
To receive these benefits, you must first establish a workers’ compensation claim. To learn how to do this, see our article explaining Tennessee’s workers’ comp claim process.
Temporary disability benefits cover a portion of your lost wages while you are recovering from your injuries. You become eligible for temporary benefits on your eighth day of missed work. (If your disability lasts for more than 14 days, the insurance company will retroactively pay you for your first week off work.) Benefits are paid until you are able to earn your regular wages or until your doctors believe your condition will no longer improve—called maximum medical improvement or MMI.
Temporary total disability. If you’re completely unable to work during this time, you will receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. TTD benefits are two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to a minimum and maximum amount set by law. As of July 1, 2016, you cannot receive more than $976.80 or less than $133.20
Temporary partial disability. If you can return to work, but you are earning less due to your injuries, you can receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. TPD benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages. For example, if you used to earn $1,000 in weekly wages, but you now can only earn $500, you would get $333.33 in TPD benefits ($1000 - $500 = $500; 0.6666 x $500 = $333.33). TPD benefits are subject to the same weekly minimum and maximum as TTD benefits.
Once your doctors determine you are at MMI, you might be eligible for permanent disability benefits. In Tennessee, permanent benefits are paid for both total and partial disabilities.
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are the same as your temporary total disability rate: two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to the state’s minimum and maximum benefit. You are eligible for PTD benefits only if you are unable to perform any type of work. These benefits continue until you reach Social Security’s retirement age.
If your doctor finds that your permanent impairments are only partially disabling, you are eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. In 2014, major changes were made to Tennessee’s PPD system. The 2014 changes simplify the benefit structure and modestly increase benefit amounts. (For more information, see the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s website.) If your injury happened before July 1, 2014, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer for help calculating your PPD benefits.
If your injury occurred on or after July 1, 2014, your doctor will assign an impairment rating once you reach MMI. Your impairment rating reflects the percentage of total body function that you lost due to your injuries (using the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment). You will receive this percentage of 450 weeks in PPD benefits, which are paid at two-thirds of your average weekly wage). The state has minimum and maximum benefits for PDD ($133.20 and $888 as of July 1, 2016).
Example: Suppose your injuries result in a 20% impairment rating and you had a pre-injury average weekly wage of $800. You will receive $533.33 per week (two-thirds of $800) for 90 weeks (20% of 450).
Your PPD benefits will increase over time if you:
These increases can be combined. Calculating your total PPD award can be complex. If you need assistance, consult a Tennessee workers’ compensation lawyer.
If an injury or illness results in death, the worker’s dependents may receive death benefits. The benefit amount varies, depending on the deceased worker’s familial status.
The state’s has a maximum for total benefits paid ($399,600 in 2017). A surviving spouse receives benefits until he or she remarries. Minor dependents receive benefits until they are 18 years old (22 years old if full-time students). Additionally, the insurance company must pay up to $7,500 for the worker’s reasonable funeral and burial expenses.
Contact a Tennessee workers’ comp lawyer immediately if the insurance company disputes your claim or reduces or denies your benefits. A lawyer can help you evaluate your claim, calculate your benefit rates, and ensure that you receive the proper compensation. To learn more, see our page on hiring a workers' comp lawyer.