How Permanent Disability Benefits Are Calculated in California

BY: Koszdin | Monday, June 10, 2024.

Permanent disability benefits in California are a critical aspect of the workers’ compensation system, designed to support individuals who suffer lasting impairments from work-related injuries. Understanding how these benefits are calculated can be complex, but it is essential for ensuring that injured workers receive the support they are entitled to. If you are navigating this process, consulting a Los Angeles permanent disability attorney at Koszdin, Fields & Sherry can provide invaluable assistance. This article will explain the key factors and steps involved in calculating permanent disability benefits in California.

Permanent Disability

Permanent disability (PD) in California refers to any lasting disability that impacts a worker’s ability to earn a living. The severity of the disability can vary, and the benefits are calculated based on the degree of the impairment and its effect on the worker’s earning capacity.

Types of Permanent Disability

There are two primary categories of permanent disability:

  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) applies when the worker can still perform some work but has a lasting impairment.
  • Permanent Total Disability (PTD): This applies when the worker cannot work due to injury.

Steps in Calculating Permanent Disability Benefits

The calculation of permanent disability benefits involves several steps, including determining the extent of the disability, calculating the impairment rating, and converting this rating into monetary benefits. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each step:

Step 1: Medical Evaluation

The first step in the process is a medical evaluation by a qualified medical examiner (QME) or an agreed medical evaluator (AME). This evaluation assesses the extent of the worker’s injury and its impact on their ability to work. The doctor will provide a detailed report, including an impairment rating based on the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides to evaluate Permanent Impairment.

Step 2: Impairment Rating

The impairment rating is a percentage that reflects the severity of the worker’s disability. This rating is crucial as it forms the basis for calculating disability benefits. The higher the impairment rating, the greater the compensation. For example, a 10% impairment rating indicates a less severe disability than a 50% rating.

Step 3: Adjustment for Age and Occupation

California law requires adjustments to the impairment rating based on the worker’s age and occupation at the time of the injury. These adjustments account for the differing impacts a disability might have on individuals of different ages and those in different types of work.

Step 4: Determining the Disability Rating

The adjusted impairment rating is then converted into a disability rating using a formula provided by the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). This rating ranges from 0% to 100%, with higher percentages indicating more severe disabilities. A disability rating above 70% typically qualifies as a permanent total disability.

Step 5: Calculating the Weekly Benefit Amount

The next step involves calculating the weekly benefit amount. This amount is based on two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly earnings, subject to minimum and maximum limits set by California law. The current maximum weekly benefit for permanent disability is adjusted annually based on the state’s average weekly wage.

Step 6: Duration of Benefits

The duration of permanent disability benefits depends on the disability rating. For partial disabilities, benefits are paid over specific weeks corresponding to the disability rating. For example, a 10% disability rating might result in benefits paid over a shorter period than a 50% rating. In cases of total disability, benefits may be paid for life.

Other Considerations


In some cases, some of the disability may be attributed to factors other than the work-related injury, such as a pre-existing condition. This is known as apportionment. The benefits will be adjusted accordingly, reducing the compensation based on the percentage attributed to non-work-related factors.

Lump-Sum Payments

Workers may have the option to receive a lump-sum payment instead of weekly benefits. This can benefit those who need immediate funds for medical bills, rehabilitation, or other expenses. However, accepting a lump sum typically means giving up the right to future weekly payments.

Legal Representation

Navigating the complexities of permanent disability benefits can be challenging. Consulting with a Los Angeles permanent disability attorney can help ensure that all factors are accurately considered and that the worker receives the full benefits they are entitled to. Attorneys at Koszdin, Fields & Sherry specialize in workers’ compensation and can provide expert guidance through the entire process.


Permanent disability benefits are a crucial lifeline for workers who suffer lasting impairments from work-related injuries. Understanding how these benefits are calculated involves a detailed medical evaluation, impairment rating, and legal adjustments. Given the complexities involved, consult a knowledgeable Los Angeles permanent disability attorney at 818-812-5639. Koszdin, Fields & Sherry can help ensure injured workers receive the maximum benefits they are entitled to. By carefully navigating this process, workers can secure the financial support they need to manage their disabilities and maintain their quality of life.

Prev Next

The Process of Applying for Disability Benefits in Los Angeles

BY: Koszdin | Friday, May 10, 2024.

How a Disability Benefits Attorney Can Help You Appeal a Denied Claim in Los Angeles

BY: Koszdin | Thursday, March 7, 2024.

Securing Your Future: Why a Van Nuys Disability Benefits Attorney is Essential

BY: Koszdin | Thursday, October 26, 2023.
Top Icon
icon phone