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Understanding Temporary Disability Benefits

After a work-related injury caused by a single accident or repeated exposures to unsafe substances or conditions, an employee may be unable to work for some time. Workers’ compensation insurance provides temporary benefits during this time.

When an injury prevents a worker from performing his or her usual work for more than three days, or the worker is hospitalized overnight, he or she may qualify for temporary disability benefits. There are two types of temporary disability (TD) benefits a worker may qualify for and receive in California:

  • Temporary total disability (TTD): Benefits for employees who cannot work at all during the recovery period
  • Temporary partial disability (TPD): Benefits  for employee who can work but not their full schedule while recovering

The amount of temporary total disability a worker receives is determined by calculating income from all work, including:

  • Wages
  • Food
  • Lodging
  • Tips
  • Commissions
  • Overtime
  • Bonuses
  • Earnings from other jobs worked at the time of injury

Generally, after a claims administrator receives all proof of earnings, he or she calculates TTD benefits at a rate of two-thirds of a worker’s pre-tax earnings, up to a maximum weekly amount set by law. There are also minimum benefit amounts.

Temporary benefit payments are made every two weeks, although the first payment may be delayed while the claims administrator investigates. Once you receive benefit payments, they continue until you return to work, your doctor says you can return to work or that your injury will not improve any further, or you exceed the maximum time period set by law. For injuries occurring after April 2008, temporary benefits last up to 104 weeks within five years from the date of injury. However, payments for certain long-term injuries may continue for up to 240 weeks. 

A claims administrator must keep you updated on your benefits by sending letters explaining how payments were determined, why benefits are delayed, why payment amounts have changed and why benefits are ending. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can guide you through the process.

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