The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (M.G.L. c. 152) offers additional benefits to injured workers whose job-related injuries result in permanent impairment or disability. A permanent impairment is a permanent loss of a bodily function. The specific statute can be found at M.G.L. c. 152 § 36. These benefits are in addition to the typical workers’ compensation benefits available to injured workers (e.g., disability benefits and/or medical benefits).
The Section 36 benefits are available to an injured worker who suffered permanent loss of sight, hearing, function of the upper and lower extremities and other bodily functions. Additionally, Section 36 benefits are available for workers who are left with a permanent disfigurement.
Section 36 sets forth the amount of additional workers’ compensation benefits employees may be entitled to if their specific injury results in a permanent impairment. The amount of these additional Section 36 benefits depends on the body part and function impaired by the work-related accident and injury and are calculated as a specific multiple of the Commonwealth’s average weekly wage for the date on which the worker was hurt on the job (not the injured employee’s specific average weekly wage).
The injured worker generally needs a permanent impairment rating assigned by the treating physician or surgeon using the American Medical Association’s (AMA's) Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment once the worker has reached a maximum medical improvement. An experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney can help determine if you are entitled to the additional Section 36 benefits and, if so, the amount you may be entitled to.