What Is Disability?
Disability in a Texas workers’ compensation claim is defined as the inability, because of a workplace injury, to earn your pre-injury wage. This means that if your injury results in a loss of earnings, then you meet the definition of disability. This might be because you cannot work at all after your injury. Maybe you can work but not full time, so you get paid less than before your injury. Sometimes injured workers are given different job duties after an injury, and it comes with less pay. In all of these situations, you would have disability.
You can see, then, that disability is not what people generally consider the word “disabled” to mean. Disability in a Texas workers’ compensation claim is different than disability in a social security claim. It is not necessarily about functional ability, but more about earning ability. It is an economic issue, not a medical opinion.
There are many scenarios that result in disability. The majority of disability cases involve an inability to work at all or a release to work on light duty. If you cannot work at all, then you obviously can’t earn wages – that’s disability. If your employer won’t let you work light duty, then your injury is the reason why you aren’t earning wages – that’s disability.
How To Prove Disability
In order to be entitled to temporary income benefits, you will have to prove that you have disability. Generally, injured workers can prove disability by providing a DWC-73 – a work status report – from a doctor. This form documents your functional ability. If it says you cannot work at all, that is evidence of disability. The same is true if it documents the various restrictions you might have that would keep you from performing your regular job duties. Other evidence that will help you prove disability would be diagnostic test results (MRI, EMG, x-rays), surgical records and other medical opinions about your physical condition and functional ability, as well as your job description.
This is a general overview of the concept of disability in a Texas workers’ compensation claim. It is sometimes a very complicated and multi-faceted question. But if you can’t work because of your injury, it is often the most important question. If the insurance company refuses to pay you when you have a period of disability, then you will need to handle that through the Division’s dispute resolution process. You can learn more about that in our FREE book, The Ultimate Survival Guide For Texas Injured Workers: Everything You Need To Know To Beat Insurance Companies At Their Games.