Unlike in many other states, most Wyoming employers have workers’ comp insurance through the state. The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) is the state agency that handles and pays accepted workers’ comp claims. This means that you’ll be in touch with a claims analyst from the DWS throughout your claim. If your claim is approved, you will eligible to receive the workers’ comp benefits described below.
To receive workers’ comp benefits, you must notify your employer of your injury and file certain forms. To learn more, see our article on how to start a workers’ comp claim in Wyoming.
Temporary total disability (TTD) is paid while you are off work, recovering from your injury. TTD benefits in Wyoming are not paid for the first three days of missed work, unless you miss more than eight days of work because of your injury.
TTD benefits are two-thirds of your gross monthly wages at the time of injury, or 30% of the statewide weekly wage, whichever is greater. (For the second quarter of 2017, 30% of the statewide monthly wage is $1,124.50; this amount is updated each quarter by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.) You will be paid in two installments, on the 15th and 30th of each month. Your monthly TTD rate can increase by 3% if all of your medical care is within Wyoming, or if you have to travel an extra 100 miles to get to a medical provider in Wyoming than an out-of-state provider.
TTD is paid in Wyoming for a maximum of 24 months, unless there are extraordinary circumstances. TTD will end before this time if you return to work or reach maximum medical improvement (when your condition has improved as much as it’s going to with treatment).
If your employer offers you light-duty work and you refuse the offer, your TTD will be reduced to one-third of your benefits. So, if your monthly TTD benefit was $1,500, you’ll only get $500 per month. There are exceptions to the rule, such as being enrolled in college, working on your GED, or doing other vocational retraining.
If you can return to work in some capacity while you’re being treated for your injury, but your earnings are less than usual, you can receive temporary partial disability (TPD). This typically happens when you can perform light-duty work.
In Wyoming, TPD benefits are 80% of the difference between your light-duty wages and your monthly earnings at the time of your injury. For example, if you earned $2,000 per month before you got injured, but you are now receiving only $1,000 per month for light-duty work, your TPD benefit would be $800 (80% of $1,000). TPD is paid for a maximum of one year, but will end sooner if you’re back at work full duty or reach maximum medical improvement.
Temporary benefits end when you fully heal or reach maximum medical improvement. At that point, your doctor will evaluate you to see if you’ve had any permanent loss of physical function because of your work injury. If you do, you could qualify for permanent partial impairment (PPI) benefits. A licensed physician will assign a percentage of impairment to your disability.
PPI benefits are two-thirds of the state average monthly wage ($2,499.01 for the second quarter of 2017), for up to 60 months. The number of months for which you get paid is based on your level of impairment. For example, if you have a 10% impairment, you’ll be paid for six months.
If you don’t agree with the amount of your award, you can ask for a second opinion. If the second opinion doctor gives you a different impairment rating than the first, DWS will consider both, and then offer an award.
While PPI benefits compensate you for loss of physical function, permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits compensate you for loss of earning potential. To be eligible for a PPD award, all of the following requirements must be met:
Your PPD rate depends on your monthly earnings. If you earn 72% or less of the statewide monthly wage, your benefit will be 92% of your monthly earnings. If you earn more than 72% of the statewide monthly average wage, but less than the statewide monthly wage, the rate is two-thirds of the statewide monthly rate. If you make the statewide monthly wage or more, you will receive two-thirds of your earnings, but no more than the statewide monthly wage.
The number of months you are paid depends on your age, work experience, education, career plans, and remaining years in the work force.
Another kind of permanent disability benefit is permanent total disability (PTD). PTD benefits are only available if you’re permanently unable to do any type of work due to your injury. The PTD rate is calculated in the same way as the PPD rate. This benefit is paid for 80 months, and you can apply for an extension on a yearly basis if you are still unable to work after that. If you receive PTD, you cannot receive PPI benefits or PPD benefits.
Wyoming worker’s comp also pays for disfigurement of the face or the head, if it affects your earning capacity or ability to get a job. The award is paid for up to six months, and the rate is two-thirds of your gross average monthly wage.
The following benefits are also available through Wyoming workers’ comp:
Medical Benefits. The DWS will pay for medical treatment that is reasonable and related to your work injury. If your doctor is out-of-state, you may be charged beyond what workers comp will pay.
Death Benefits. If death was caused by the work injury, a surviving spouse, minor children, and other dependents may be entitled to monthly benefits for up to 100 months. The minimum benefit rate is 80% of the statewide monthly wage, and the maximum is double the statewide monthly wage (depending on the employee’s wage at the time of death). Burial expenses are paid up to $5,000, and an additional $5,000 will be paid for other expenses related to the death.
Vocational Rehabilitation. These benefits may include job training, placement services, career counseling, education, and even monthly living expenses to help you get a job. If you apply for this benefit, you are not eligible for a PPD award.
In Wyoming, you have the right to choose your own doctor for medical treatment related to your work injury. Make sure to choose a physician with good credentials. To learn more, see our article on finding a treating doctor in your workers’ comp case. If you need help finding a qualified orthopedic specialist (a doctor of the bones, joints and nerves) a well-versed workers’ comp lawyer can give you a referral.