After a work injury in Texas, many workers are entitled to benefits through the Texas Workers’ Compensation system. These benefits include medical benefits and indemnity benefits (money).
From the date of injury, up to the day after an injured worker is found to be at Maximum Medical Improvement, an injured worker may receive Temporary Income Benefits (TIBs), if they are disabled due to the compensable injury.
The Texas labor Code defines disability as the inability because of a compensable injury to obtain and retain employment at wages equivalent to the preinjury wage.
The medical providers fill out DWC-73 forms providing the restrictions to the injured workers’ ability to return to work. If the restrictions prohibit the injured worker from working their normal hours or duties, they are disabled.
Even if the injured worker is working, they are entitled to TIBs if they are not making their pre-injury wage. This can be due to reduced hours or a lower weekly wage due to their injury.
Workers may go in and out of disability up until the date that they are found to be at Maximum Medical Improvement.
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If a worker in Texas suffers an injury to their neck or back and receives a Impairment Rating which includes a DRE Category IV, it will be for “Loss of Motion Segment Integrity or Multiple Neurologic Compromise.”
Loss of Motion Segment Integrity: Translation of one vertebra on another segment that is 11 degrees more that the angular motion at an adjacent motion segment; along with documented history of muscle guarding and pain.
Multiple Neurologic Compromise: There must be bilateral radiculopathy or radiculopathy at multiple levels per the requirements of a DRE Category III. This must include a documented history of muscle guarding and pain.
If a claimant receives a DRE Category IV for a cervical injury, they will receive a 25% whole body impairment rating for that condition. If the claimant receives a DRE Category IV for a thoracic or a lumbar injury, they will receive a 20% whole body impairment rating for that condition.
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Spinal injuries for cervical, thoracic and lumbar which in radiculopathy may be eligible for a DRE Category III. Radiculopathy is a condition due to a compressed nerve in the spine that can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness along the course of the nerve.
To qualify a person must have an ongoing minor neurologic impairment low the lower extremity related to cervical, thoracic or lumbar injury. This is documented through examination of reflexes and findings of unilateral atrophy above or below the knee related to no other condition, and it may be verified by electrodiagnostic testing. The injured worker must have one of the two following findings:
- Decreased circumference (atrophy) Spine-injury-related circumferential measurements show loss of girth of 2 cm or more above or below the elbow or knee. The atrophy cannot be explained by non-spine-related problems or contralateral sypertrophy, as might occur with a dominatnt limb or greatly increased use of a limb. The neurologic impairment may be verified by differentiator 4 below.
2. Electrodiagnostic evidence Unequivocal electrodiagnostic evidence exists of acute nerve root compromise, such as multiple positive sharp waves or fibrillation potentials; or H-wave absence or delay greater than 3 mm/sec; or chronic changes such as polyphasic waves in peripheral muscles.