In this weak economy, many people—including workers who have been laid off—are filing for Social Security disability benefits and disability retirement under an Ohio retirement system. A disability award can be used to defend the pursuit of temporary total and permanent total compensation in a claim.

Temporary total compensation is to compensate a claimant for lost wages while treating for the allowed injuries in a claim and the claimant has the intention to return to work. Permanent total compensation is awarded to claimants whose allowed claim conditions render them unable to engage in sustained remunerative employment; i.e., the allowed conditions remove them from the work force. 

For employees who qualify for disability benefits for medical conditions unrelated to the allowed conditions of their claims, any attempts to collect temporary or permanent total compensation should be rigorously defended. By qualifying for disability benefits, one is removing oneself from the work force. The award of disability benefits under these circumstances should act as a bar to the award of either temporary or permanent total compensation.

The 10th Appellate District of the Court of Appeals decided such a case earlier this year. (State of Ohio ex rel. Patricia Rouan v. Industrial Commission of Ohio and Mahoning County, 2011 Ohio 1897.) The claimant, who was injured in 2004, was awarded Public Employees Disability Retirement benefits in 2005 for depression that was not an allowed condition in her claim. After qualifying for Disability Retirement, the claimant sought the payment of temporary total compensation. The Court of Appeals reviewed the facts and applicable case law and decided that the claimant “abandoned the entire workforce with her disability retirement and for reasons unrelated to her industrial injury, she cannot receive the loss of wages at the heart of a temporary total disability compensation, as the possibility of employment no longer exists. Rather, her abandonment of the workforce severed any causal relationship between her industrial injury and her claimed disability.”