Under Florida law, virtually all employers with four or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance provides benefit payments to employees who cannot work as a result of an on-the-job injury. Generally, an injured employee will receive benefits payments until he can return to work. However, in the case of an employee who has been rendered permanently incapable of engaging in any employment whatsoever, benefits will be paid at least until the age of 75. Permanent total disability payments are calculated according to a formula set out under Florida law.
Calculate your average weekly wage as defined under Florida law. To do so, collect your pay stubs for the 13 calendar weeks prior to your injury, excluding the week in which your injury occurred. Add up the total wages you received during those 13 weeks. Divide this sum by 13 to arrive at your average weekly wage. Note that if you were not employed the full 13 weeks prior to your injury or you did not complete at least 75 percent of the customary hours of employment during those weeks, the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation will make a calculation based on the wages of a similar employee in the same position.
Multiply your average weekly wage by 66 2/3 percent. The resulting figure is an initial calculation of your weekly permanent total disability benefit payment. This initial calculation may be subject to adjustments as described below.
Identify Florida’s maximum workers’ compensation benefit in effect at the time of your injury. Visit the U.S. Social Security Administration website for a year-by-year listing of maximum benefit amounts. Make note of the figure associated with the date of your injury. For example, if you were injured during the year 2010, the maximum weekly benefit you can receive is $772. Note that the minimum benefit amount under Florida law is $20.
Determine whether your average weekly wage falls within the range of allowable benefit amounts. If it does, this is your weekly permanent total disability benefit payment. If your average weekly wage is below $20, you will receive a $20 weekly benefit payment. If your average weekly wage is above the maximum benefit in place at the time of your injury, you will receive no more than the maximum benefit payment.
Under Florida law, permanent total disability applies only to persons who are completely unable to engage in at least sedentary employment within a 50-mile radius of their home. The burden for proving this condition varies according to the injury. In cases involving paralysis, amputation, brain injury, blindness or severe burns, permanent total disability is automatic, unless the employer can establish otherwise. In all other cases, the employee must establish permanent total disability to the satisfaction of the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation.