FAQ: Disability Benefits

Overview

An employee who sustains a work injury may be entitled to disability benefits under Iowa workers' compensation law.

This page contains frequently asked questions (FAQ) about disability benefits in Iowa.

Legal Advice

The FAQ pages are intended to provide general information about the Iowa workers' compensation system. For resources to help you get legal advice, click here.

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FAQ

Do time limitations apply to disability benefits?

Time limitations may apply to disability benefits.

Time limitations may impact an injured workers' ability to get paid disability benefits.

For more information about time limitations under Iowa workers' compensation law, click here.

Who pays benefits?

The employer or insurance carrier pays disability benefits if an injured worker is entitled to them.

The Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) does not pay benefits.

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What types of disability benefits are there?

The following types of disability benefits exist under Iowa workers' compensation law:

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How is weekly disability benefit rate calculated?

Temporary total disability (TTD), healing period (HP), permanent partial disability (PPD) or permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are paid at a weekly workers’ compensation rate considering your marital status and number of exemptions.

Generally, the rate is 80% of your spendable earnings before any deductions. “Spendable earnings” is the amount remaining after payroll taxes are deducted from your gross weekly earnings.

The weekly benefit amount is based on a seven day calendar week.

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What is the maximum and minimum disability benefit rate?

Each year, the Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation sets the maximum and minimum weekly disability benefit rate.

To view maximum and minimum weekly disability benefit rates by year, click here.

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How many types of disability benefits may an injured worker get?

Depending on the nature and extent of a work injury, an injured worker may be eligible for one or more types of disability benefits.

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What are temporary total disability (TTD) benefits?

When an injured worker is off work for more than three calendar days due to a work injury, the worker may be entitled to TTD benefits.

The only difference between TTD benefits and healing period (HP) benefits is HP benefits are paid when the work injury causes a permanent impairment.

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When do temporary total disability (TTD) benefits start?

When an injured worker is off work more than three calendar days due to a work injury, the worker may be entitled to TTD benefits beginning on the fourth day the worker is off work due to the work injury.

If an injured worker misses 14 or more days from work due to the work injury, the worker may be entitled to TTD benefits for the first three days of work missed.

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When do temporary total disability (TTD) benefits end?

TTD benefits continue until whichever happens first:

  • The injured worker returns to work; or
  • The injured worker is medically recovered enough to return to similar work.

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What are temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits?

If an injured worker returns to work and is temporarily earning less because of the work injury, the worker may be entitled to TPD benefits.

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What is the amount of temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits?

The TPD benefit amount is 66 2/3 percent of the difference between the injured worker's average gross weekly earnings when injured and the worker's actual earnings while temporarily earning less.

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When do temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits start?

There is a three-day waiting period before TPD benefits start. TPD benefits begin on the fourth day after you return to work at a lesser paying job because of the work injury.

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What are healing period (HP) benefits?

If a work injury the injured worker to miss work and causes a permanent impairment, the worker may be entitled to HP benefits.

The only difference between HP benefits and temporary total disability (TTD) benefits is HP benefits are paid when the work injury causes a permanent impairment.

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When do healing period (HP) benefits begin?

There's no waiting period for HP benefits. They begin on the first calendar day after the date of injury.

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When do healing period (HP) benefits end?

HP benefits continue until the first of the following occurs:

  • The injured worker returns to work;
  • The injured worker recovered as much as anticipated from the injury; or
  • The injured worker is medically capable of returning to the same kind of work the worker did when injured.

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What are permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits?

An injured worker may be entitled to PPD benefits when the work injury results in:

  • A permanent impairment to the worker's body;
  • A permanent physical restriction; or
  • An inability to earn wages similar to those earned before the work injury.

PPD benefits are in addition to healing period benefits.

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When do permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits start?

PPD benefits start when:

  • It is medically indicated that maximum medical improvement from the injury has been reached; and
  • The extent of loss or percentage of permanent impairment can be determined by use of the American Medical Association (AMA) guides to the evaluation of permanent impairment.

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When do permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits end?

The amount of PPD benefits to which an injured worker may be entitled may depend on multiple factors:

  • The body party injured;
  • The amount of functional impairment caused by the work injury;
  • Whether the worker was able to return to work with the same employer;
  • The amount of the worker's wages after the injury; and
  • Whether the injury is considered to have impacted the worker's earning capacity under Iowa law.

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What are Second Injury Fund (SIF) benefits?

If a worker has had a permanent disability to a hand, arm, foot, leg or eye and then has a job related injury that causes permanent partial disability to another hand, arm, foot, leg or eye, the worker may be entitled to SIF benefits.

These benefits are paid for any amount that industrial disability is greater than the combined scheduled member disability from both the first and second disabled member.

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When do Second Injury Fund (SIF) benefits start?

SIF benefits start after the employer (or its insurance carrier) has paid all scheduled member permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits due on account of the second injury. 

What should you do if you believe you may be entitled to Second Injury Fund (SIF) benefits?

If you believe you are entitled to SIF benefits, contact the State of Iowa Treasurer’s Office to obtain a claim form. To contact the Treasurer's Office, click here.

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What are permanent total disability (PTD) benefits?

If a work injury leaves the worker incapable of returning to any type of wage-earning employment, the worker may be entitled to PTD benefits during that time when the worker cannot return to any gainful work.

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More Info

For more information about workers' compensation in Iowa, click here.