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Definition of Impairment Rating

Impairment rating, or disability rating, are two terms that you may think mean the same thing. However, they are two different ratings, just as impairment and disability do not mean the same thing. Impairment has to do with any functional or anatomic loss or abnormality that can be temporary or permanent. Disability is any lack or restriction (caused by an impairment) of ability to perform an activity within the range or in the manner that is regarded as being normal for a person.

Impairment rating is a percentage estimate of the amount of normal use that your injured body parts have lost, which is based on guidelines that have been published by the American Medical Association (AMA). Disability rating has to do with your ability to work and earn wages. Your impairment rating is used in determining your disability rating, but it is not the same as your disability rating.

One of the difficulties with an impairment rating is that it attempts to define an injured worker's impairment rather than their disability. According to the AMA guidelines, an injured worker may be rated as having a minor impairment, but that worker may be disabled for the purposes of doing their job. This would mean that the worker would have a low impairment rating but a high disability rating. This would mean the worker would receive a higher compensation because the high disability rating indicates that the worker's ability to earn wages or do their job has been seriously hindered. However, when a worker has a high impairment rating and a low disability rating, it means that worker will receive lesser compensation. The reason being that even though the worker's impairment rating is high, the disability rating indicates that the worker will still have a good ability to earn wages.

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