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Impairment vs Disability: Defining the Differences Before You Claim

Impairment vs Disability | Gaylord & Nantais

What is an Impairment?

Impairment is defined as when a person’s physical/psychological health, structure, and/or function gets changed or damaged. Workplace injuries exemplify impairment because they may cause physical, emotional, or psychological damage to a person, which could be permanent. However, impairment like these may not necessarily affect a person’s ability in performing their responsibilities in the workplace.

What is a Disability?

Disability, on the other hand, is a person’s inability to perform their job, usually due to an injury or another form of impairment. Disability results from an impairment, but an impairment may not always result in disability. It is worthy to note that both impairment and disability can be temporary or permanent.

Here are some helpful details to understand the differences between impairment and disability, and how to approach the situation should either scenario happen during your employment.

Impairment vs. Disability

The American Medical Association (AMA) gives different definitions of the term “impairment.” In some cases, impairment can mean permanent injuries. In other cases, it can mean a decline in health, disorder, or disease that is far from the norm which requires an objective judgment.

Disability, on the other hand, is a different concept because it compares a person’s abilities with job requirements. It’s possible for two people to suffer from the same impairment without both individuals qualifying for disability. The main test is that the impairment must affect the person’s work

What Experts Say

A significant loss in body structure or function is a defining factor for impairment, according to AMA Guidelines. This definition includes major deviations in health conditions such as disorder or disease. Disability, however, as defined by AMA Guidelines, relates to health conditions that present limitations or restrictions in activity. The severity of health conditions relating to the inability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) is measured by the AMA’s consensus-driven impairment rating. ADL includes eating, dressing, and hygiene.

What is an impairment rating for workers comp?

The Impairment Rating means the rating of deficiency given to an injured worker, which states to what degree their injuries are going to affect job performance in the future. To say it simply, imagine you are selling a car online and you describe the exterior as a 9 out of 10 and the interior as an 8 out of 10.

What is permanent impairment benefit?

A permanent impairment benefit means once-off lump sum payment given to injured workers resulting from a work-related illness or injury.

Get compensation for permanent impairment

If you have become permanently impairment due to work-related injury or illness, you will most likely be entitled to receive a lump sum payment as compensation.

While the lines may seem blurred between impairment and disability, a workers’ comp lawyer who heads an experienced legal team can help deliver the best settlement for your claim. When it comes to workers’ comp cases, it is essential to choose a team with a proven track record of success.

Workers Comp Attorney in Long Beach or Los Angeles, CA

If you have received an impairment or disability that is work-related and are residing in and around Long Beach or Los Angeles, CA, get in touch with the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Gaylord and Nantais today. They are always there to help your case in receiving workers’ compensation claim as a result of your injury.


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Thomas M. Nantais

Thomas M. Nantais is the Partner of Gaylord & Nantais, a legal firm specializing in workers’ compensation, in the state of California. This firm deals in getting hearing loss compensation and work related injuries compensation for those who have worked in the state of California. With his sincere efforts, Thomas is committed to meet the highest standards of the legal industry, and aims to provide the clients with an honest and aggressive representation.

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