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May 29, 2024

Unlocking Disability Benefits in Wyoming’s Workers’ Comp

Posted in Personal Injury

Permanent Disability or Vocational Rehabilitation

After receiving your impairment rating, you still may not be able to return to the job you were doing at the time you were injured. So long as the whole person permanent partial impairment rating was not 0%, you may qualify for permanent partial disability, permanent total disability, or vocational rehabilitation. Permanent partial disability may be awarded if you are unable to return to the workforce making 95% of your preinjury wages. Some of the qualifications will be based upon your physical limitations, but you must go to your previous employer to see if they have a job that will accommodate your limitations. If they don’t or if you were terminated, you need to do a work search.

In Wyoming, that is deemed to be 5 job searches per week for 6 weeks. Permanent total disability occurs when you aren’t able to return to work. The statute defining permanent total disability uses the term “loss of the use of the body as a whole” or a condition certified by a physician, which must be licensed to practice surgery or medicine, meaning a physical therapist, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant could not certified an injured employee. The physician certification request asks the physician to certify whether the condition “permanently incapacitates the employee from performing work at any gainful occupation for which he is reasonably suited by experience or training.” There is another way to prove entitlement to permanent total disability benefits and that is through the “odd-lot” doctrine.

The Wyoming Supreme Court has stated that under the “odd-lot” doctrine, a claimant (also known as injured employee) is required to prove “that (1) ‘he is no longer capable of working at the job in which he was employed at the time of his injury,’ and (2) ‘the degree of obvious physical impairment, coupled with other facts, such as mental capacity, education, training, or age” qualify him for odd lot treatment.’” In the Matter of the Workman’s Compensation Claim of Bobby Joe Pickens, 134 P.3d 1231, 1236 (Wyo. 2006). Under the “odd-lot” doctrine, this Vocational rehabilitation occurs when work comp works with you on getting you retrained.

This is beneficial because the literature out there shows that returning to the workforce provides many mental and health benefits. Workers’ comp can help pay for schooling or training. They can also pay for some of the incidentals such as housing, supplies, books, etc. Lastly, Workers’ comp can work with you to provide accommodations; for example, if you have a compensable low back injury and you have a sedentary job, then perhaps a specific chair may be helpful. These are all options depending on the level of disability.

We don’t recommend handling your workers’ compensation case alone. Trust the experienced team at Davis & Johnson Law Office to advocate for your rights and guide you through the complexities. Your job is to focus on recovering after an injury, not stressing about whether you’ll be able to pay for your care. Contact us today to schedule your consultation. We can discuss the best next steps for your circumstances.

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