Under the Florida Workers Compensation Act, an individual can qualify for Permanent Total Disability Benefits if he/she can demonstrate that they are unable to engage in any type of employment within a 50 mile radius of their home as a result of injuries sustained in a Workers Compensation accident. This is a very strict, difficult standard to meet, particularly for individuals in fairly large metropolitan areas, with many job opportunities available. Permanent Total Disability is properly thought of as a combination of a claimant’s physical capabilities coupled with their vocational background. Physical restrictions reference the individual’s residual capability to engage in certain types of physical activities. Vocational preparation refers to an individual’s age, educational background, past relevant work experience, and the transferability of any skills that they may have acquired in the course of their life to that point.
If an individual qualifies for Permanent Total Disability status, they are eligible for benefits through the age of 75. If they are injured after the age of 70, then total eligibility lasts for a period of 5 years. In addition to the standard Permanent Total Disability Benefits, which is 66 2/3% of an individual’s average weekly wage, the individual also receives a 3% cost of living increase. This 3% cost of living increase continues until the individual reaches the age of 62.
Rules and Law pertaining to Permanent Total Disability benefits have changed dramatically over the years. The description of potential and eligible benefits described in the preceding paragraphs references only individuals injured only after 10/1/03. Different eligibility/entitlement rules pertain to injuries prior to 10/1/03.