Qualifying for Permanent Total Disability in Ohio

Qualifying for Permanent Total Disability in Ohio

Worker’s compensation, or “worker’s comp,” provides benefits to people who cannot return to their jobs, either temporarily or permanently, because of work-related injuries or illnesses. People who will never be able to work their old job or a similar one again may qualify for “permanent total disability,” which pays lifetime benefits. An experienced worker’s comp lawyer can help you understand how to navigate Ohio’s worker’s comp system.

Types of Worker’s Comp Benefits

The Ohio worker’s comp system makes two important distinctions when assessing applications for benefits: whether the disability is partial or total, and whether it is temporary or permanent.

A partial disability does not prevent a person from working, but it does keep them from returning to the same job they had before the injury or illness. Total disability means that the person cannot work at all in any job that uses their particular skills.

Temporary disability means that the person is expected to recover from the injury or illness to the point that they can return to their old job or a similar job. If the injury or illness is severe enough that the person will never be able to work again in any job for which they are qualified, that would be a total disability.

The four types of disability, therefore, are:

  • Temporary partial, also known in Ohio as “wage loss”;
  • Permanent partial;
  • Temporary total; and
  • Permanent total.

The Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation scrutinizes permanent total disability claims closely since they usually involve the largest amount of benefits.

Qualifying for Permanent Total Disability

Ohio’s worker’s comp law establishes several criteria for a person to be eligible for permanent total disability.

Injury or Occupational Disease

The person must have suffered an injury or occupational illness, as Ohio law defines those terms. It must have occurred in the course of the person’s employment.


The injury or illness must have caused serious impairment. Ohio law describes two scenarios that involve a sufficient level of impairment:

  • The person has either lost or lost the use of one or more pairs of limbs or eyes, such as the loss of both hands, arms, or legs. The loss of only one out of a pair of body parts is not enough.
  • The injury or illness has prevented the person from engaging in any paid work that is within their skill set, or any skill set that they could acquire.

Examination and Hearing

Finally, anyone applying for permanent total disability benefits must attend an examination and hearing before the Industrial Commission of Ohio. The purpose of these proceedings is to determine whether a claimant meets the above eligibility criteria.

Do you have questions about worker’s compensation in Ohio? Our team of attorneys at Spitler & Williams-Young can advise you of your rights and options, and prepare a legal strategy for your case. Please contact us today at [email protected] or 419-863-2211.

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