Permanent disability in Nevada workers’ compensation claims

Permanent disability payments compensate an injured worker for the permanent effects of a work injury or occupation illness. The permanent disability percentage and dollar value is determined by the type of injury and by a doctor's evaluation.

Permanent disability can be partial or total.

Permanent partial disability:

  • Means the injured worker can work but has permanent limitations
  • is based on the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Fifth Edition.
  • is paid monthly based on the percentage of injury and an injured worker's average monthly salary
  • payments continue until the worker reaches age 70.

An injured worker can request that disability up to 30% be paid in a lump sum instead of monthly. However, the amount is reduced to present value. This means that the injured worker will get less money but will get paid quicker.

Permanent total disability:

  • means the injured worker can no longer work
  • is based on the type of injury and the worker's ability to find future employment
  • payments are at two-thirds of the injured worker's monthly salary and continue for life.

The insurance company can request that the employee is re-evaluated each year to determine if he or she is still permanently disabled.

The injured worker is evaluated for permanent disability by a doctor on the list provided by the state of Nevada.

An injured worker is evaluated for permanent partial disability when his or her condition has stabilized, and the doctor believes there is permanent impairment.

If an injured worker has a prior injury, the value of the prior injury is subtracted from the current injury. This prevents the injured worker from getting paid for the same injury twice.

In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada work injury attorneys will explain:

nevada workers compensation permanent disability benefits
Permanent disability payments compensate an injured worker for the permanent effects of a work injury.

1. What is a permanent disability in Nevada workers' compensation?

Permanent disability compensates an injured worker for the permanent effects of a work injury, often a catastrophic work injury. Permanent disability helps make up for the fact that the worker does not have the same abilities as his or her pre-injury capacity.

Permanent total disability means an injured worker can no longer work due to the injury. Permanent partial disability means there is some permanent loss of function, but the worker can continue working in some capacity.

An injured worker needs to file a claim for Nevada workers' compensation benefits to obtain permanent disability benefits.

There are different procedures depending on whether the permanent disability is partial or total.

An injured worker can request that permanent disability payments be directly deposited in a bank account.1

2. Permanent partial disability

Every injured worker is potentially entitled to permanent partial disability.2

An injured worker can elect to receive a workers compensation settlement for permanent partial disability. This means an award of up to 30% in a lump sum reduced to present value. The remainder is paid in installments.3

This is calculated using the Permanent Partial Disability Award Calculation Worksheet for awards of less than 30% and the Permanent Partial Disability Award Calculation Worksheet for Disability Over 30% Body Basis.

The employee can then elect to receive the payment in a lump sum using the Election of Method of Payment of Compensation or the Election of Method of Payment of Compensation Greater than 30%.

The injured worker then has to reaffirm this using a Reaffirmation/Retraction of Lump Sum Request.4

An employee is not entitled to permanent partial disability while receiving temporary disability.5

ama permanent impairment guide cover
American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Fifth Edition

3. Determining permanent disability

Permanent disability in Nevada is based on the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Fifth Edition.6 This is also referred to as impairment of the whole person.

An injured worker must have objective findings, such as an MRI, to have a ratable disability. It cannot be based solely on subjective complaints, such as pain levels.7

3.1. Medical rating of permanent disability

The insurance company must schedule an exam to determine permanent disability8 within 30 days of receiving a report from a doctor or chiropractor that an injured worker's condition is stable and that there may be a ratable permanent disability.

Stable means that the condition is permanent or static and will not improve.9

Ratable means that there is a:

  • loss of motion, sensation or strength
  • loss or change in bodily function
  • mental or behavioral disorder10

If a doctor recommends surgery, an injured worker can decline it. If no further treatment is offered, his or her condition will be considered stable and can be rated for permanent disability.11

The evaluation can be with a doctor or chiropractor selected from a list of approved providers. The provider must be in a specialty related to the injury. 12

The injured worker must reveal any prior evaluations or injuries related to the current examination if requested by the insurance company.13

Example: Jimmy is a front desk clerk and injured his spine at work. He has been treated for four months and his doctor says that Jimmy's condition is stable and that he has some permanent disability.

Two weeks later the insurance company selects an orthopedic spinal specialist to evaluate Jimmy for permanent disability.

3.2. How to calculate the value of permanent disability

For each percentage of impairment, the injured worker receives monthly payments of .6% of his or her average monthly wage. The payments will start on the later of the following dates:

  • when the injured worker received the last payment of temporary disability, or
  • the date of injury

The payments will continue monthly for:

  • five years; or
  • until the injured worker is 70 years old

whichever is later.14

Example: Jennifer has been given permanent disability of 7%. Her monthly wage is $4,000. She is 37 years old.

Jennifer will receive $168 a month until she is 70 years old.

3.3. Calculating average monthly wage

The average monthly wage is the lesser of:

  • the injured worker's monthly wage as of the date of the injury
  • 150% of the Nevada state average weekly wage times 4.3315

For 2018 the Nevada limit is $878.10 per week.16

3.4. What if there is a prior injury?

If an injured worker had a previous disability, it must be subtracted from the new disability level.17 The previous disabilities must be rated using the same version of the AMA Guides as the new injury.18

Example: Tim suffers a back injury at work. He also had a prior back injury.

His doctor rates Tim's current disability level at 14%. The doctor then determines that Tim's prior back injury would rate at 6%. Therefore, Tim's current permanent disability is 8%.

4. Permanent total disability

An injured worker is considered permanently totally disabled for certain injuries in Nevada including:

  • loss of sight in both eyes
  • loss of legs at or above the knee
  • loss of arms at or above the elbow
  • paralysis of both legs or arms or one arm and one leg
  • serious skull injury
  • loss of one arm and one leg
  • other condition based on facts and circumstances19

Other conditions that may be considered permanent total disability are referred to as the “odd lot doctrine”. This considers physical impairment, the worker's age, experience, and education. Based on a combination of these conditions, the injured worker is not employable.20

4.1. Permanent total disability payments

Permanent disability payments are two-thirds of the injured worker's average monthly wage.21 The payments continue for the lifetime of the injured worker.22

An injured worker who receives permanent total disability is entitled to a 2.3% increase in the payment each year.23

An insurance company must provide the injured employee with a yearly accounting of payments and deductions of permanent total disability.24

Example: Gerald is 62 and injures his hands and upper back. He worked in manual labor all his life and has a high school education. His permanent partial disability is 17%.

If Gerald can prove that due to his specific situation he is not employable or retrainable, he can receive permanent total disability.

4.2. Permanent disability status

Permanent total disability payments only continue as long as the injured worker is permanently disabled. But the insurance company has the burden of proving the injured worker is no longer permanently disabled.25

The insurance company can request the employee submit to an exam on a yearly basis to determine whether the permanent total disability still exists. The employee must submit to the exam or payments will be suspended.26

Example: Monica is a Nevada firefighter with a workers compensation case. She has been receiving permanent total disability for three years. Her insurance company requests that Monica attend an evaluation to determine if her condition has improved.

Monica must attend the exam or her permanent disability payments will be suspended until she does.

Permanent disability and other benefits

Permanent disability is one of a series of benefits available to injured workers. Other benefits include temporary disability, vocational rehabilitation benefits, mileage reimbursement, and death benefits.

5. Purpose of permanent disability

Nevada workers' compensation benefits are intended to not only return an injured worker to work, but to pay for any permanent loss of function due to a work injury.

The process of determining permanent disability value is complicated and the result will determine the benefits an injured worker will receive for the rest of his or her life.

An injured worker should understand how these benefits are calculated and not rely on the insurance company to protect his or her rights. This may include the right to reopen a workers comp claim and to appeal a denial of workers compensation benefits.

Call us for help...

Nevada workers compensation attorneys
Call us at 702-DEFENSE

If you or someone you care about was injured at work in Nevada, our attorneys can help to file a workers compensation claim. (For cases in California, please see our page on permanent disability benefits in California workers compensation cases.)

For a free consultation to discuss your case simply fill out the form below or call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

Legal References:

  1. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.409

  2. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.490

  3. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.495

  4. Nev. Admin. Code § 616C.499

  5. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.405

  6. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.10

  7. Nev. Atty. for Injured Workers v. Nev. Self-Insurers Ass'n, 126 Nev. 74, 225 P.3d 1265, 2010 Nev. LEXIS 6, 126 Nev. Adv. Rep. 7

  8. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.490(2)

  9. Nev. Admin. Code § 616C.103(1)(a)

  10. Nev. Admin. Code § 616C.103(1)(b)

  11. Chappaz v. Golden Nugget (1992) 107 Nev. 938, 822 P.2d 1114.

  12. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.490(2)(b)

  13. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.490(4)

  14. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.490(7)

  15. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616A.065

  16. http://dir.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/dirnvgov/content/WCS/ImportantDocs/MaxCompMemoFY18.pdf

  17. Nev. Rev. Stat § 616C.490(10)

  18. Public Agency Comp. Trust v. Blake (2011) 127 Nev. 863, 265 P.3d 694.

  19. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.435

  20. Nevada Indus. Comm'n v. Hildebrand (1984) 100 Nev. 47, 675 P.2d 401.

  21. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.440(a)

  22. State Indus. Ins. Sys. v. Rux (1986) 102 Nev. 638, 729 P.2d 1361.

  23. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.473

  24. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.447

  25. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.440(3)

  26. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.140

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