Because I Said So! An Examination of the 1996 Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule
“Because I said so.” We all remember this excuse our parents used for a decision they had no patience to justify to us. This is all too often the refrain used by many physicians in the Florida workers’ compensation system when assigning impairment ratings for injured workers. A careful reading of the 1996 Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule reveals that many of the ratings physicians assign to injured workers in the Florida workers’ compensation system are incorrect based upon the physicians’ flawed application of the schedule. This article discusses the history behind the promulgation of the 1996 Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule (the guides) and an example of a common misapplication of the guides.
The guides are the result of the 1990 Florida Legislature’s requirement that a three-member panel, in conjunction with the Division of Workers’ Compensation, establish and use a uniform permanent impairment rating schedule.1 An advisory panel of representative health-care specialists and a member of The Florida Bar assisted the three-member panel and the division. The impetus for promulgating the guides was the recognition that evaluation or rating of permanent disability is an important and complex subject, which in the past created much confusion from an inadequate understanding by physicians and others of the scope of medical responsibility in the evaluation of permanent impairment. Confusion often arose because of differences between permanent disability and permanent impairment.2 According to the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law, the assignment of a permanent impairment rating is a function that physicians alone are competent to perform.3 The mandate for creating the guides recognized the importance for physicians to have the necessary authoritative material to direct them in competently fulfilling their responsibility of determining a permanent impairment.4
The Florida Legislature defines a permanent impairment as “any anatomic or functional abnormality or loss determined as a percentage of the body as a whole, existing after the date of maximum medical improvement, which results from the injury.”5 The guides provide basic rules for an evaluator to properly calculate an impairment rating.6 The ratings for some injuries are determined through the application of relatively less challenging sections of the guides. Other injuries require more effort and concentration on the part of the physician to determine the correct rating. Some doctors resist working through the guides for some ratings. Instead, they opt to base a rating on a more readily identifiable or less laborious calculable method. The cause for this varies, whether it is because a physician is not properly remunerated for the effort, or it is viewed as the way it has always been done; or it is due to confusion, insecurity, or lack of experience.
A classic example of an incorrect determination of an impairment rating based on a flawed analysis of the guides is illustrative.7 Assume the following hypothetical: A 40-year-old worker earning $750 a week injures his lower back in a compensable Florida workers’ compensation case. He receives initial medical treatment at a local clinic. He presents with pain, limited range of motion in his lumbar area, and radicular complaints. After initial medical intervention at a clinic, the worker’s symptoms persist. A lumbar MRI reveals a herniated disc at L5-S1. The injured worker is then referred to a spine specialist. The employer/carrier (E/C) selects the authorized specialist, who evaluates the injured worker and begins conservative treatment modalities, i.e., physical therapy and medications. Symptoms persist. The specialist then recommends the injured worker undergo epidural steroid injections (often a set of three injections). Unfortunately, the injections fail to provide the desired results for the worker due to the size and position of the spinal lesion. The specialist recommends and performs a one-level discectomy. The injured worker receives post-surgical physical therapy and appropriate medicinal intervention, and despite a short period of relief, the symptomatology returns. A repeat MRI reveals a recurrent disc herniation at L5-S1. The specialist then recommends and performs a lumbar fusion at L5-S1.8 After a recovery period, the injured worker has residual signs of radiculopathy and continues to report pain. The worker also complains to the specialist that he is unable to perform sexually and has issues urinating. He further complains that he feels depressed and incomplete. Based on these complaints, the specialist refers the injured worker for urological and psychiatric evaluations. The spine specialist also opines that, from his area of specialty, he reasonably believes the injured worker will not have any further lasting improvement and places the worker at maximum medical improvement.9
The spinal specialist also opines that the injured worker will have permanent exertional work restrictions that preclude the worker from engaging in any type of work other than in a sedentary capacity on a full-time basis.10 The spine specialist now has the responsibility of calculating the injured worker’s permanent impairment rating for the resultant spinal disorder. This article describes two approaches the spine specialist may take in making this calculation: 1) the “because-I-said-so” approach; and 2) an approach based upon a clear and plain reading of the guides. As will become apparent, the latter is the preferable approach.
“Because I Said So”
Most physicians in the Florida workers’ compensation system seem to favor the “because-I-said-so” approach to calculating permanent impairment. All too often, physicians will calculate a rating under the disorder of the spine section of the guides in such a way that the existence of residual conditions is ignored. A physician’s aversion to applying the guides to their fullest extent often puts the physician on the defensive when the rating is questioned. The physician’s response usually is not that it was a proper application of the guides; instead, the explanation is, “it is this way, because I said so.”
In our hypothetical, under the “because-I-said-so” approach, the spine specialist refers to the intervertebral disc or other soft tissue lesions section of the guides and notes that at no. 5, a surgically treated lumbar disc legion, with or without residual findings, yields a 7 percent rating.11 The specialist then refers to no. 7 of the same section and notes that an additional 2 percent rating is appropriate since the injured worker underwent two surgeries.12 The specialist then refers to no. 8 of the same section and assigns one additional point because the worker was fused at one vertebral level.13 Based on his analysis, the specialist assigns the injured worker a 10 percent permanent impairment rating. The specialist believes the rating is correct and usually will not consider any further information on the issue of rating, which is problematic. This situation is all too familiar to workers’ compensation practitioners; based on anecdotal evidence and this author’s experience, the overwhelming number of specialists would rate this hypothetical injured worker in a similar fashion. However, in so doing, these physicians ignore the clear and plain reading of the guides.
Clear and Plain Reading of the 1996 Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule
An approach that employs a clear and plain reading of the guides militates toward a much different, and higher, rating. The initial step in this approach requires a reading of the introductory paragraph of the first subsection of the Musculoskeletal — The Spine section, “Evaluation of the Spine.” The last paragraph of this three-paragraph introduction reads: “After determination of the impairment from a spinal disorder has been obtained that value must be combined with the appropriate value of residual objective signs for ankylosis, and spinal cord and/or spinal nerve injury.”14 It is, thus, clear that the guides contemplate that an injured worker should obtain a rating for ankylosis, and possibly for any spinal nerve injuries, in addition to a rating for a disorder of the spine.
As if the paragraph discussed above was not sufficiently clear and plain, the guides address the additional rating criteria again. In our hypothetical, when the spine specialist correctly used no. 5 of the section, “Intervertebral Disc or Other Soft Tissue Lesions,” the specialist should have observed two asterisks in the first sentence: “Surgically treated disc lesion with or without objective finding** neurological.”15 The two asterisks refer to a sentence directly below this section that reads as follows: “**If there are no residuals, there are no values to be combined with these numbers. With objective neurologic findings, the neurologic impairment must be rated in accordance with [§]5 of this [g]uide.”16 Again, the guides clearly and plainly mandate that if residuals exist, the residuals must be rated and then combined with the ratings for the specific disorder of the spine.
The guides then provide a third instruction to specialists that all impairments listed for specific disorders of the spine must be combined with the existence of nerve injuries or ankylosis. In fact, on page seven, as a reminder to combine any additional rating, the guides read as follows:
“NOTE: All impairments listed in Specific Disorders of the Spine should be combined with only the following appropriate values of residual signs:
a. Ankylosis secondary to surgery or injury in the spinal area (see Ankylosis table).
b. Spinal cord or spinal nerve root injuries, with neurologic impairment (see neurological section).
c. Any combination of the above using the Combined Values Chart.”17
This section is highlighted by the word “NOTE,” presumably to emphasize its importance and to call attention to it.
Following clear and plain, if not redundant, language in the guides, the spine specialist in our example is required to consider any rating for anklyosis and residual nerve injuries. If the specialist follows the mandate of the guides, then the injured worker’s rating should include consideration of any potential rating for ankylosis and residual nerve injury.
The spine specialist must first evaluate the injured worker for a possible rating under the ankylosis section. Ankylosis is the stiffening or immobility of a joint due to disease, injury, or a surgical procedure such as fusion of bones.18 Since the specialist performed a fusion at L5-S1, the specialist would focus on pages nine through 11 of the guides.
The guides require the specialist to take measurements of the injured worker with the use of a goniometer based on different planes: flexion/extension, lateral flexion, and rotation.19 To illustrate the impact of this analysis on the ultimate rating, assume the specialist fused, or ankylosed, the injured worker at the L5-S1 vertebral level with a measurement of zero degrees on the flexion and extension planes; the injured worker’s rating, therefore, is calculated using the table on page 10 of the guides. This means the specialist performed the fusion at the least restrictive plane, i.e., the worker is left with the greatest possible range of motion on flexion and extension. The appropriate rating would be the lowest possible rating allowed for ankylosis of the lumbar area, or an additional 20 percent.
As the guides instruct on three occasions, the spinal specialist now has to determine if any additional rating is appropriate for the existence of any spinal nerve root injuries or a neurologic impairment.20 For this task, the specialist must turn to §5, “Nervous System,” and specifically pages 56-59 of the guides. To begin the rating process for spinal nerve root injuries, the spinal specialist is well-served to refer to the first basic rule provided in the introduction to the guides, which reads: “The final impairment value, whether the result of a single or combined impairment, shall be rounded off to the nearest whole number.”21 The specialist should also review page 60 of the guides, which addresses the grading schemes.
For purposes of this section, we will assume the specialist placed permanent work restrictions on the injured worker precluding him from standing for greater than 30 minutes at a time; precluding him from pushing, pulling, carrying, or lifting greater than 10 lbs.; and requiring that he be able to alternate sitting and standing at will. Clearly, with these restrictions, the injured worker has lost function due to residual lower-extremity neurologic pain and strength.
Accordingly, the specialist should read page 58 and note that the greatest possible assignable lower-extremity rating at the L-5 level is 5 percent for loss of function due to sensory deficit or pain, and 37 percent for loss of strength.22 The specialist would then review the grading scheme provided for each on page 60.23
In our hypothetical, our fictional injured worker has significant permanent physical restrictions, and, therefore, a residual neurologic deficit that prevents a full range of activities. The specialist would refer to the description at no. 3 on page 60 to determine the degree or percentage of interference that the residual pain from the nerve root injury affects the injured worker’s activity.24 For purposes of our example, assume the specialist selects 20 percent. The specialist would then recall that the greatest possible rating for loss of function due to pain is 5 percent, so he then multiplies five by. 20. The product would be a 1 percent lower-extremity rating.
The specialist then considers loss of function due to decreased strength. The greatest possible lower-extremity rating for this condition is 37 percent for the pathology at L-5.25 The specialist should refer to page 60 and use the grading scheme for loss of function due to muscle strength or weakness.26 Assume the specialist decides description three is the most appropriate for the worker and that 50 percent is the appropriate grade.27 The specialist then multiplies 37 by. 50 to produce an 18.5 percent lower-extremity rating. As instructed in the first basic rule on page three, the 18.5 percent lower-extremity rating is rounded to 19 percent.28
Now, the specialist has to follow the process of combining and converting the lower-extremity rating to ratings pertaining to the body as a whole. Combining is a process by which multiple ratings are converted to a single rating. The basic rules of the guides provide instructions on how to combine multiple ratings.29 Section 15 of the guides, “combined values chart,” explains how the chart is to be applied.30 For instance, the lower rating is always combined into the great rating. In our hypothetical, the specialist would combine the 1 percent rating for pain into the 19 percent rating for loss of strength, and this combination yields a rating of a 19 percent lower-extremity rating per the combined values chart. The specialist now must convert the lower-extremity rating to a rating of the body as a whole. To do so, the specialist uses table 21 on page 50 of the guides.31 Per table 21, a 19 percent lower-extremity rating converts to an 8 percent whole-body rating.
The specialist now must turn to the task of combining the ratings from the specific disorders of the spine, the ankylosis, and the neurologic injuries. Following the instructions of the combined values chart in §15, the specialist will take the smallest rating and combine it into the largest rating.32 In our example, the 8 percent whole-body neurologic rating combines into the 20 percent rating for anklyosis, which yields a combined whole-body rating of 26 percent. The specialist then takes the 10 percent rating for specific disorders of the spine and combines it with the 26 percent, to produce a whole-body rating of 33 percent.
Under the clear-and-plain-reading approach, the specialist should then incorporate the appropriate rating for scarring. Obviously, as a result of a lumbar fusion surgery, the injured worker has scarring. Again, many surgeons resist incorporating an additional permanent impairment rating for scarring. However, a clear and plain reading of the guides demonstrates that a rating should be assigned for scarring.
On page 114 of the guides, a section on “skin disorders”33 clearly applies to any disorder or abnormality of the skin. In the first sentence of this section, the guides state: “Permanent impairment of the skin is any anatomic or functional abnormality or loss, including burns (thermal or electrical), scarring, and acquired immunologic capacity to react to antigens that persists after medical treatment and rehabilitation, and after a length of time sufficient to permit regeneration and other physiologic adjustments.”34 The guides, thus, define “scarring” as a skin disorder or abnormality of the skin. The guides further state that “impairments of other body systems, such as…ankylosis of joints…may be associated with skin impairment.”35 The guides, thus, contemplate that scarring from surgery is a ratable skin disorder. Finally, if there is a ratable skin disorder, the guides require that it be considered in rendering a permanent impairment rating. The guides clarify that the scarring or skin disorder is to be evaluated independently of the disorder of the spine by stating: “When there is permanent impairment in more than one body system, the degree of impairment for each system should be evaluated separately and combined using the [c]ombined [v]alues [c]hart, to determine the impairment of the whole person.”36
In our hypothetical, assume that our injured worker has a scar as a result of the surgery and that the scar creates no functional limitation whatsoever. Also assume that the scar never became infected or required any treatment outside the normal healing process for scars and that the scar at the surgical site did not exist prior to the accident. Under such assumptions, the injured worker would fall into the class 1 impairment classification for skin disorders (the class representing the least possible limitation caused by scarring).37 The minimum allowable whole-body rating for the scar in this class is 1 percent.38 After completing the analysis for skin disorders, the specialist combines the skin disorder rating with the 33 percent rating, which would yield a whole-body rating of 34 percent.39 Of course, if the injured worker is given a rating for a urological or psychological condition, such ratings would also have to be combined with the other ratings to determine a final whole-body impairment.
Why Does it Matter?
The Florida Legislature first enacted the Florida workmen’s compensation system on May 23, 1935.40 At that time, injured workers received compensation at a rate of 50 to 60 percent of the employee’s average weekly earnings for a maximum of 350 weeks.41 This was the law until 1979, when the Workmen’s Compensation Law underwent significant revision and became known as the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law.42 With these revisions, the workers’ compensation law left the era of a fixed-benefit system and adopted a compensation scheme wherein injured workers were paid varying amounts based on the severity and type of injury related to a schedule of benefits. The new system was a wage-loss concept.43 Under the wage-loss concept, four categories of indemnity benefits were recognized: temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent total disability, and permanent partial disability. The first two categories were payable while an injured worker received remedial care and until the worker reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Permanent partial disability became known as wage-loss benefits. Wage-loss benefits allowed injured workers to receive compensation if the worker was unable to return to work earning as much as he was earning at the time of the accident. In other words, the worker would recover for the loss of earning capacity. Entitlement to wage-loss benefits was affected by numerous legislative amendments over the ensuing years. The 1994 legislative amendments effectively eliminated wage-loss benefits; however, the term “wage-loss” ceased to exist in the act after the 2003 amendments.44 The legislature replaced “wage-loss” with “permanent impairment” benefits (impairment income benefits or IIBs).45
In its current form, §440.13(3)(c) and (g), provides a two-step approach for computing the amount of permanent impairment benefits.46 The first step is to determine the rate at which IIBs are to be paid; the second step is to determine the duration of such benefits. When an injured worker reaches MMI, his entitlement to IIBs is based on his or her earning capacity at such time.47 If the injured worker is earning at or greater than his or her pre-injury average weekly wage, the worker will receive 50 percent of his or her average weekly temporary total disability benefit for the allotted period of time.48 However, if at the point of MMI, the injured worker is earning less than his or her average weekly wage, the worker will receive 75 percent of the average weekly temporary total disability benefit.49
The duration of the IIBs depends on the numerical permanent impairment rating. With the 2003 amendments, the Florida Legislature created the following tiered schedule:
“(g) Notwithstanding paragraph (c), for accidents occurring on or after October 1, 2003, an employee’s entitlement to impairment income benefits begins the day after the employee reaches maximum medical improvement or the expiration of temporary benefits, whichever occurs earlier, and continues for the following periods:
1. Two weeks of benefits are to be paid to the employee for each percentage point of impairment from 1 percent up to and including 10 percent.
2. For each percentage point of impairment from 11 percent up to and including 15 percent, 3 weeks of benefits are to be paid.
3. For each percentage point of impairment from 16 percent up to and including 20 percent, 4 weeks of benefits are to be paid.
4. For each percentage point of impairment from 21 percent and higher, 6 weeks of benefits are to be paid.”50
Obviously, the higher the numerical rating, the greater the amount of benefits the injured worker is to be paid.
Returning to our hypothetical, recall that our injured worker had an AWW of $750, which yields a compensation rate of $500. With the permanent work restrictions the specialist assigned, we shall further assume that the best job the injured worker can find is a sedentary job paying $10/hour for a 40-hour work week. With these facts, the worker has in actuality a $350/week loss in earning capacity. Under the current version of the act, the E/C would pay impairment benefits at the rate of 75 percent of his or her compensation rate, or $375/week. Per the “because-I-said-so” approach, our injured worker’s 10 percent permanent impairment rating (PIR) would entitle him or her to 20 weeks of the IIBs, for a total of $7,500. Under the clear-and-plain-reading approach, the worker’s 34 percent PIR would entitle him or her to 139 weeks of IIBs, or $52,125.51 Obviously, the latter approach yields a far greater benefit to the worker by paying him or her an additional $44,625.
Our hypothetical injured worker is 40 years old. If we assume that he would have worked in the same industry until age 65, he would suffer a $350 a week loss in earning capacity for 25 years, or 1,300 weeks. Using a conservative discount factor of 4 percent to calculate the present value of his lost earning capacity, it totals over $310,000. Regardless which approach is used to determine the PIR, our injured worker will never recover the full extent of his lost earning capacity. The clear-and-plain-reading approach would at least provide the worker the greatest possible time to make life adjustments and attempt to avoid economic ruination. Make no mistake, no charity is being requested or given; it is what he is entitled to under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law.
This article brings to light the proper approach to determining an impairment rating for a worker who suffers a serious, but common, back injury. The example provided herein is not meant to be an exhaustive analysis of all of the rating schemes in the guides. Undoubtedly, there are many other instances in which a clear and plain reading of the guides would render higher ratings than those being assigned. There is no known caselaw that solves the interpretive issues between the “because-I-said-so” approach to determining a PIR and the “clear-and-plain-reading” approach. The clear and plain reading is at least based upon the dictates of the language in the guides and not on an individual physician’s arbitrary belief or opinion about ratings. The clear-and-plain-reading approach is based on the premise that all disc herniations, surgeries, or recoveries are not the same and, therefore, should not be rated the same. If the clear-and-plain-reading approach is accepted as the correct and favored way to assign permanent impairment ratings, then injured workers in Florida have been rated improperly for far too long, and they deserve better…because I said so.
1 See Fla. Stat. §440.15(3)(b). The 1990 legislature amended the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law to require a three-member panel, in conjunction with the Division of Workers’ Compensation, to establish and use a uniform permanent impairment rating schedule. Ch. 90-201, §20, 1990 Fla. Laws 894, 936 (originally codified at Fla. Stat. §440.15(3)(a)3 (1990)); see also Injured Workers Ass’n of Fla. v. Dep’t of Labor & Emp’t Sec., 630 So. 2d 1189, 1190 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994).
2 The 1996 Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule [hereinafter “the guides”] defines these terms as follows: “Permanent Impairment — This is a purely medical condition. Permanent impairment is any anatomic or functional abnormality or loss after maximal medical improvement has been achieved, which abnormality or loss the physician considers stable or non-progressive at the time evaluation is made. It is always a basic consideration in the evaluation of permanent disability. Permanent Disability — This is not a purely medical condition. A patient is ‘permanently disabled’ or ‘under a permanent disability’ when his/her actual or presumed ability to engage in gainful activity is reduced or absent because of “impairment” which, in turn, may or may not be combined with other factors. A permanent condition is found to exist if no fundamental or marked change can be expected in the future.” See 1996 Fla. Unif. Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule 1, Background, available at http://www.genexservices.com/Portals/171716/docs/1996percent20flpercent20impairmentpercent20ratingpercent20schedule.pdf.
3 See id.
4 See id.
5 See Fla. Stat. §440.02(22) (2014). The term “abnormality” is used often throughout the various sections of the guides. See the guides at §1: Musculoskeletal – The Spine at 6; id. at §9: The Hematopoietic System at 87; id. at §11: Equilibrium at 95; id. at §12: Digestive System at 108; id. at §13: Endocrine System at 111; id. at §14: Skin Disorders at 114; id. at §16: Definitions at 118. Despite the obvious importance of the term “abnormality” in determining a rating, it is not defined in either Ch. 440 or the guides. Merriam Webster defines “abnormality” as “something that is not usual, expected, or normal: something that is abnormal.” Abnormality, Merriam-Webster, available at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/.
6 See the guides, basic rules at 3-4.
7 This may seem like an elaborate or exotic example to those who are not familiar with traumatic injuries, but workers’ compensation practitioners commonly see the injuries and other elements of the following hypothetical.
8 David Franklin Williams, The Williams Dictionary of Biomaterials 145 (1999). Fusion is the “merging or coherence of adjacent parts or bodies,” or “the operative formation of an ankylosis or arthrosis.”
9 See Fla. Stat. §440.02(10) (2014) (“‘Date of maximum medical improvement’ means the date after which further recovery from, or lasting improvement to, an injury or disease can no longer be reasonably anticipated, based upon reasonable medical probability.”).
10 Upon reaching MMI, a claimant is not entitled to payment of any disability benefits if the claimant has a residual functional ability to engage in at least sedentary employment. See Fla. Stat. §440.15(1)(a).
11 See the guides, §1 at 6.
14 Id. at 5 (emphasis added).
15 See the guides, §1 at 6.
16 Id. (emphasis added).
17 Id. at 7 (emphasis added).
18 See Williams, The Williams Dictionary of Biomaterials at 18.
19 See the guides, §1 at 8-10.
20 See notes 14-17 and accompanying text.
21 See the guides at 6.
22 See id. at 58; see also Figure 1.
23 See id. at 60; see also Figure 2.
25 See note 22.
26 See the guides at 60; see also Figure 3.
28 See note 21.
29 See the guides at 3. “Adding vs. Combining. With range of motion loss in multiple planes of the same joint the impairment ratings are added. When dealing with multiple hand values, the values are added. Everything else is combined! NOTE: When combining is necessary, use the Combined Values Chart found in Section 15. Combining the largest figure with the next largest, and so on, is a good rule to follow. Example: To combine 35, 40, and 10: 40 combined with 35 = 61; 61 combined with 10 = 65.”
30 See id. at 116-17.
31 See id. at 50.
32 See id. at 116-17.
33 See the guides at 114.
34 Id. (emphasis added).
37 See id.
39 Id. at 116-17.
40 See Ch. 17481, Laws of Fla. (1935) (codified at Fla. Stat. Ch. 440).
41 See Fla. Stat. §440.15 (1935).
42 See Ch. 79-40, Laws of Fla. (1979) (amending various provisions of Fla. Stat. Ch. 440, 624, 627); see also Arthur Larson, The Wage-Loss Principle in Workers’ Compensation, 6 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 501, 502 (1980).
43 See generally id. (providing detailed discussion of Florida’s transition to a wage-loss system).
44 In fact, in 2002, §440.15(3) was titled “permanent impairment and wage-loss benefits” and in 2003, the same section was amended to read “permanent impairment benefits.” Ch. 2003-412, §18, Laws of Fla. (effective Oct. 1, 2003). Compare Fla. Stat. §440.15(3) (2002) with Fla. Stat. §440.15(3) (2003).
45 Ch. 2003-412, §18, Laws of Fla. (amending scattered sections of Fla. Stat. Ch. 440).
46 See Fla. Stat. §440.15(3)(c), (g) (2014).
47 See Fla. Stat. §440.15(3)(c).
48 See Fla. Stat. §440.15(2). This statutory provision explains that the temporary total disability rate equals 66 2/3 percent, or 66.67 percent of the average weekly wage. See Fla. Stat. §440.15(2)(a).
49 See Fla. Stat. §440.15(3)(c).
50 Fla. Stat. §440.15(3)(g).
51 See id. With a 34 percent impairment rating, the injured worker impairment benefits is calculated as follows: “20 weeks for the first 10 points of the rating; 15 weeks for the next 5 points of the rating; 20 weeks for the next 5 points of the rating; 84 weeks for the next 14 points of the rating; For a total of 139 weeks.”
Mario L. Perez Florida workers’ compensation, Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act and Defense Base Act cases. He graduated magna cum laude from Florida International University and received his J.D. with honors from the University of Florida in 1997. Perez is also admitted into the Southern and Northern federal districts.
This article is dedicated to the memory of my beautiful son, Dallas K. Perez, I will forever love you; and my dear friend, Daniel Chang. May God bless you both.
This article is submitted on behalf of the Workers’ Compensation Section, Paul M. Anderson, chair, and Pam Foels, editor.