One question we commonly get from seriously disabled workers is whether their workers’ compensation benefits will continue indefinitely if their injury is permanent.

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not always good news for New York workers suffering from permanent partial disabilities. In fact, workers’ comp benefits in New York are now limited to a specific number of weeks – even if the disability is permanent.

Temporary benefits for a permanent disability

Under previous New York law, injured workers classified as permanently partially disabled were eligible for workers’ comp benefits as long as their disability resulted in wage loss – meaning they could collect permanent benefits for as long they were permanently disabled.

However, that all changed in 2007, thanks to major changes in the workers’ compensation laws. Now, any worker suffering from a permanent partial disability can only collect workers’ compensation benefits for a capped amount of time.

So how many weeks of benefits can I get?

If you suffer the permanent loss of use of a certain body parts – including arms, legs, hands and feet – there is a set number of weeks you can actually collect benefits. Otherwise known as Schedule Loss of Use (SLU) benefits, your compensation for these disabilities are calculated based on the body part involved and the severity of your injury. The maximum period of compensation for some of these injuries include:

  • Arm: 312 weeks
  • Leg: 288 weeks
  • Hand: 244 weeks
  • Foot: 205 weeks
  • Eye: 160 weeks

Similarly, workers’ comp benefits for permanent partial disabilities not covered under SLU benefits – including injuries to the spine, neck, brain and lungs – are also capped at a certain number of weeks, which can vary depending on the severity of your disability. In any case, however, you cannot collect benefits for more than 525 weeks, or just over 10 years.

For those workers injured shortly after the 2007 law change, this 10-year limit is almost up – meaning they will soon no longer be eligible for benefits. However, these workers may still have options available. For example, they may be able to apply for reclassification and additional benefits. If you have questions, however, it is always best to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. After all, you may rely on these benefits if your disability makes work impossible.