Today’s post is from our colleague Charlie Domer of Wisconsin.
Surgeries are commonplace after a work injury. When an injured worker in Wisconsin has a post-injury surgery, that worker is ordinarily entitled to a minimum percentage of permanent disability.
Permanent partial disability (PPD) generally represents a physician’s assessment of a worker’s functional loss. PPD is payable at a weekly rate equal to two-thirds of the employee’s average gross weekly earnings at the time of the injury, subject to a maximum rate (the rate in 2011 and 2012 is $302/week).
Administrative rules relevant to the Worker’s Compensation Act (Section DWD 80.32) provide mandatory minimum ratings of PPD for injuries to various body parts and surgical procedures. For example:
- A laminectomy (removal of disc material) at one level of the lumbar spine (e.g., L4-5) carries a minimum 5% disability;
- A spinal fusion at the same level (e.g. L4-5), results in a minimum 10% disability;
- Total hip replacements carry a minimum 40% PPD (while a partial hip replacement results in 35% PPD);
- A total knee replacement has a minimum PPD of 50% (partial knee replacement is 45%);
- An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair is 10% PPD minimum; and
- A knee meniscectomy results in 5% PPD minimum.
If a worker has one of the listed procedures, they receive the minimum PPD percentage. To calculate the value, we look to the applicable percentage, based on the number of weeks the body part is “worth” under the statutes. For example, a knee is worth 425 weeks under the statutes, so the 20% PPD to the knee is 85 weeks (20% of 425) at the $302/week rate for a 2011 injury, which amounts to $25,670.