If you or anyone you know has ever filed a workers’ compensation claim, you have most likely heard the term “MMI.” MMI stands for Maximum Medical Improvement.
You reach MMI when your treating physician determines that your condition or injury has improved as much as is likely. In other words, your condition will not get any better, medically speaking. This may mean that you have healed, or it may mean that you have a permanent impairment.
What happens when I reach MMI?
When you reach MMI, your insurance company may need a company-approved doctor to examine you, to verify that you have reached your MMI. If the insurance company’s doctor confirms your MMI, the insurance company may offer you a settlement at that point. In addition, once you reach your MMI, your treating physician may validly perform an Impairment Rating Evaluation.
What is an Impairment Rating?
In an IRE, your treating physician evaluates whether you have fully healed or whether you have some ongoing physical disability or permanent loss of function. Your physician then reduces this loss of function to a numeric rating, expressed as a percentage.
If your impairment rating shows that you are physically capable of returning to work, your workers’ compensation benefits may stop. If your IRE indicates that you will never be able to return to work, you may qualify for permanent, total disability benefits. If your IRE reflects that your impairment will only allow you to work part-time, or work in a limited capacity, you may qualify for permanent, partial disability benefits.
Pennsylvania law limits workers’ compensation benefits to 500 weeks for workers whose IRE is less than 35%. However, there is no limit for permanent disability payments.