Have you recently received a Decatur Maximum Medical Improvement diagnosis from your doctor and are curious what happens next? This is a common concern that many of our clients face. Many of them worry that their benefits will come to an abrupt end now that they have reached MMI. This is rarely the case. Many Decatur injury victims are able to continue receiving benefits and medical treatment long after this diagnosis.
What Is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?
At some point during ongoing medical care, a physician will determine that the patient can no longer benefit from additional treatment. The doctors will have provided the patient will all of the accepted treatment options available and there will be no further surgeries possible without increasing the risk for harm. At this point, the patient is said to have achieved Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).
MMI is not a declaration that the patient has been cured or that their body has returned to its pre-injury state. A damaged shoulder or knee may only regain 70 percent of its movement ability by the time they reach MMI. This indicates that the patient is transitioning from a temporary disability to a permanent disability. This will have important ramifications on their available benefits and medical care.
Prior to reaching MMI, you may have been receiving Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) or Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits in Decatur. This diagnosis will usually mark the end of those temporary benefits and a movement to a new type of benefits or a potential end of the benefits altogether. It will depend entirely on the severity of the injury and the work you are able to perform following the diagnosis.
The next step after receiving an MMI designation is to determine if there is any permanent disability and if that disability will interfere with your ability to work. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and provide you with a permanent impairment rating. This impairment rating fluctuates according to the specific body part affected and its ability to function. It is intended to express the percentage of the body that is permanently disabled. Thus, a larger percentage represents a more significant disability.
With certain partial disabilities, you will still be able to return to work and earn an income, but your work may be restricted by the disability. The doctor may also recommend that you refrain from work entirely. If you are unable to work, it is considered a permanent total disability and you may qualify for permanent disability benefits. Some disabilities, such as complete blindness or loss of multiple limbs, are automatically considered permanent total disabilities.
You may also reach your MMI diagnosis and receive an impairment rating of 0 percent. While this likely means your benefits will come to an end, it’s good news in terms of the injury and your work potential going forward.
Who Determines When The Employee Has Achieved Decatur Maximum Medical Improvement?
An authorized physician is the only person capable of determining if you have reached MMI. It will likely be an ongoing discussion with your doctor as you continue to attend treatment or receive surgeries. They will make an effort to provide all forms of available treatments that are accepted by medical science.
Your physician should inform you as are reaching the point of MMI so that you can prepare yourself for the next steps going forward. And only they can decide when you have officially reached the point where no further treatment would be beneficial. It’s important to remember that your employer or their insurance provider does not have the legal right to determine when your treatment should come to an end.
Does Medical Treatment Continue After An MMI Diagnosis?
It can and it will still be covered by Georgia workers’ compensation law. Of course, it is highly likely that the insurance provider will try to argue this point and persuade you to avoid coverage. They will insist that you have reached MMI and that you no longer need medical treatment. Do not be persuaded by their arguments. If your physician recommends ongoing treatments after reaching MMI then you should absolutely follow through with them.
Many serious injuries require ongoing treatment following an MMI diagnosis. Pain management treatments are by far the most common type. It is still the requirement of the insurance provider to cover medical treatments that would provide relief for your workplace injury. These benefits will not continue indefinitely; however, so you should utilize them as soon as possible.
What Happens If I Cannot Return To Work And Perform At The Same Level After An MMI Diagnosis?
Patients who suffer from permanent partial disabilities often face some work restrictions after their diagnosis. These restrictions can prevent them from working the same number of hours or from performing the work they did in the past. If you are unable to perform at the same level and are earning less than your pre-injury income, then you may be eligible for ongoing workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can continue for a period of up to 400 weeks.
While Georgia does not specifically provide Permanent Total Disability benefits, they do offer total disability benefits on an unlimited basis under specific circumstances. To qualify for these benefits, you must suffer from a catastrophic injury or meet certain permanent disability requirements. This can include losing vision in both eyes or the loss of any two limbs.
Call Us Today To Understand Your Decatur Maximum Medical Improvement
An MMI diagnosis is not bad news and it does not mean your benefits must come to an end. You have options going forward that is determined by your physician’s evaluation. You may be able to return to work in a full capacity, with limitations, or maybe not at all. Call our office today at 770-796-0919 for help understanding your maximum medical improvement designation.