How Does Social Security Define Permanent Partial Disability?

The disability programs administered by Social Security  -- Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income -- do not use the term permanent partial disability (PPD). PPD is a term used by workers' compensation for those who have recovered from their injury but are left with some level of impairment that is not expected to improve significantly.

If you currently receive PPD through workers' comp, or if you settled with your worker's comp carrier for a lump-sum payment for PPD, you may wonder if you qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Social Security only grants benefits to those who aren't able to work any type of job, or at least who aren't able to make over $1,040 per month doing any type of job. Generally, receiving PPD benefits has no bearing on a Social Security disability claim. That's because you can be eligible to receive permanent partial disability benefits for a wide range of injuries, and most people who receive PPD benefits are able to work. 

For instance, if you broken your ankle at work and are now no longer allowed to work on steep slopes, workers' comp may give you a permanent disability rating of 3% and pay you a small PPD benefit. But as long as you can do other jobs that don't require you to work on steep slopes, Social Security won't consider your impairment severe and won't grant you disability benefits.

At the other end of the spectrum, you could be receiving PPD benefits for a serious injury that makes it impossible for you to work. For instance, if you were involved in a car accident while you were driving for work and you are now in a wheelchair, worker's comp may have given you a permanent disability rating of 80% and paid you a large lump-sum settlement for PPD. In that case, Social Security is more likely to grant you disability benefits. However, if there are jobs you can do from a wheelchair, even then you would likely be denied benefits. 

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