Amputations Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act mandates prompt PPD payment for injuries resulting in amputations. An employer’s failure to promptly recognize an amputation injury and make payment for the statutory loss can result in significant penalties being awarded for a delay in providing these benefits. Therefore, it is very important for any employer to recognize these injuries as quickly as possible and understand its obligations under the Act.
I. Which amputations are compensated by statute?
- Arm amputations
- Below the elbow amputation is compensated at a total loss (100%) of an arm or presently 253 weeks.
- Above the elbow is compensated at a total loss (100%) of an arm plus an additional 17 weeks.
- An amputation of the arm at the shoulder joint is compensated as a total loss (100%) of an arm plus an additional 70 weeks.
- Hand amputations
- The amputation of a hand is treated as a total loss (100%) or presently 205 weeks. The complete loss of four digits of the same hand constitutes a total loss (100%) of the hand.
- By statute, the loss of two or more digits or one or more phalanges of two or more digits may be compensated on the basis of a partial loss of use of a hand. However, any statutory payment must be promptly made for the specific finger amputations.
- Finger and toe amputations
- The loss of the first or distal phalanx of any digit shall equate to a statutory 50% loss of use.
- The loss of more than one phalanx shall equate to a 100% loss of use by statute.
- Thumb – 76 weeks
- Index finger – 43 weeks
- Middle finger – 38 weeks
- Ring finger – 27 weeks
- Little finger – 22 weeks
- Great toe – 38 weeks
- Other toes – 13 weeks
- Leg amputations
- Below the knee amputation is compensated as a 100% loss of use of the leg, or 215 weeks.
- An above the knee amputation of a leg is compensated as a 100% loss of use of a leg, plus an additional 27 weeks.
- An amputation of the leg at the hip joint is compensated as a 100% loss of use of a leg plus an additional 81 weeks.
- Foot amputation
- An amputation of the foot is a 100% loss, or 167 weeks of PPD.
II. What constitutes an amputation requiring payment for a statutory loss?
- The loss of soft tissue is likely insufficient to constitute a statutory amputation.
- The loss of an entire phalange is not necessary to constitute a statutory amputation. The Court has found that the removal of one-third of the bone of a distal phalange of a finger is sufficient to constitute the loss of a phalange mandating 50% loss of the finger. See Macon County Coal 367 Ill. 458, 11 N.E. 2d 924 (1937). The Commission will likely interpret any documented bone loss of a phalange as sufficient to constitute a statutory amputation.
III. What PPD rate is used for payment of statutory amputations?
- Amputations of members are paid at the PPD rate (60% of average weekly wage), but are subject to a higher minimum and maximum PPD rate than other injuries. Member amputations have been interpreted by the Commission to include amputations to the thumb, fingers, toes, hand, arm, foot, leg, or enucleation of an eye.
- The PPD rate for member amputations is still calculated at 60% of the employee’s average weekly wage. However, the minimum PPD rate for member amputations is one-half the state average weekly average weekly wage (presently $499.20 for accidents after July 15, 2013). The maximum PPD rate for member amputations is increased to the TTD maximum rate, which is presently $1,331.20. Thus, cases involving a member amputation can result in a significantly higher PPD rate than in a standard Workers’ Compensation case.
IV. PPD for a statutory amputation should be paid immediately.
- Court decisions interpret the Act as requiring immediate payment of statutory amputation benefits. See Lester v. Industrial Commission, 256 Ill. 3d 520, 628 N.E. 2d 191 (1993). The Court has stated that when there is no dispute regarding the amputation, payment should be immediate and prompt (see Lester). Respondent will receive credit for payment of the statutory amputation against any future PPD award, such as an 8(d-1) wage differential award. See Modern Drop Ford v. Industrial Commission, 284 Ill. App. 3d 259 (1996). Further, the Court has stated that statutory PPD benefits for an amputation should be paid no later than the time which the employer reasonably knows the extent of the amputation and is capable of calculating the appropriate average weekly wage. See Greene Welding and Hardware v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, 396 Ill, App. 3d 754, 919 N.E. 2d 1129 (2009). The Court rejects any notion that a grace period exists in paying statutory amputation benefits. A delay in payment of statutory PPD of 80 days post accident has been deemed unreasonable and subjects the employer to the imposition of penalties for the “delayed” payment, where the employer could not provide justification for the delay. See Greene. The further a delay in payment extends beyond 30 days increases the likelihood penalties will be imposed.
- Benefits should be paid weekly. Although prompt and immediate payment is required, the court has not stated the payment must be made in a lump sum.
V. Other statutory losses to be aware of.
- Vertebrae or skull fracture – 6 weeks
- Facial fractures involving the following bones: nasal, lachrymal, vomer, zygoma, maxilla, palatine or mandible – 2 weeks
- Transverse process fracture – 3 weeks
- Loss of kidney, spleen or lung – 10 weeks
- These benefits are paid subject to the customary minimum and maximum PPD rates.