How Long Can I Recover Workers’ Compensation Benefits in New York?
Michele Mirman | Workers' Compensation | March 14, 2020
In the state of New York, workers’ compensation benefits are available to employees who are injured in on-the-job accidents. The exact length of time that they can receive these benefits is almost entirely dependent on the nature and extent of their injury.
Permanent Total Disability
Workers who suffer injuries that cause them to permanently and totally lose their ability to work and earn a wage may draw disability benefits indefinitely. The state of New York does not have any limits on the number of weeks that such an individual can collect payments.
Permanent Partial Disability
The state of New York recognizes two different types of permanent partial disability. They are:
Schedule Loss of Use (SLU)
An SLU occurs when a worker permanently loses the use of one of their upper extremities (arm, hand, finger), one of their lower extremities (leg, knee, foot, toe), their hearing, or their eyesight. Benefits payouts in such cases are based on the injured body part and the severity of the disability.
Non-Schedule Loss of Use
Disabilities involving body parts that cannot be covered by an SLU award (brain, heart, pelvis, spine) are classified as non-schedule. The benefit payout period for non-schedule disabilities is based on the worker’s loss of earning capacity.
New York law sets the maximum collection period for non-schedule injuries as follows:
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of more than 95%: 525 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of 90% to 95%: 500 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of 85% to 90%: 475 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of 80% to 85%: 450 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of 75% to 80%: 425 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of 70% to 75%: 400 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of 60% to 70%: 375 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of 50% to 60%: 350 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of 40% to 50%: 300 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of 30% to 40%: 275 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of 15% to 30%: 250 weeks
- Loss of wage-earning capacity of less than 15%: 225 weeks
An individual’s loss of wage-earning capacity is usually determined by a combination of the treating physician, the workers’ compensation insurance company, and strict definitions and guidelines outlined in New York law.
Before such a determination can be made, the injured worker must have reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). In other words, they must have recovered to the maximum extent possible. In most cases, MMI is reached within six months of the original accident date.
How Much Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits in New York?
The exact size of workers’ compensation checks in New York is largely dependent on the employee’s disability classification.
Workers who are categorized as having a permanent total disability typically receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage for as long as they continue to be disabled.
Individuals who suffer an SLU disability generally receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage for the number of weeks listed in the state schedule, multiplied by their lost use percentage. A worker who loses 100% of the use of their hand can collect this compensation for 244 weeks. However, a worker who loses 25% of the use of their hand can only receive payments for 61 weeks (25% of 244 weeks).
Employees who suffer non-schedule disabilities may receive two-thirds of the difference between their pre-injury weekly wage and their current earning capacity. They can continue drawing these benefits for as long as they remain eligible.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Workers’ Compensation Claims in New York?
Under New York law, employees who are involved in accidents in the workplace are required to report the incident within 30 days. Failing to do so may void any future workers’ compensation claims.
Individuals who report their accident on time are then granted a further two-year window to file a compensation claim for injuries sustained as a result of the accident. This extended window makes it possible for employees who do not discover the full extent of their injuries until weeks or months after their accident to claim the compensation they deserve.
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board explains that such claims must be filed by:
- Two years from the date of the disabled worker’s disability; or
- Two years from the time the disabled worker knew or should have known about their disability
Individuals who do not file a claim within the two-year window are likely to lose their right to workers’ compensation benefits. Thus, it is generally advisable to begin the claims process as quickly as possible after discovering a workplace injury.