Workers Compensation – Scheduled Loss of Use

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury and been advised of the need for “Scheduled Loss of Use” (SLU), you’ve come to the right place! You may be eligible for a cash benefit aligned with the Workers’ Compensation Board guidelines.

Our team is here to navigate you through the SLU evaluation process. We’ll compile and submit a meticulous medical report to the Workers’ Compensation Board specifically for “Scheduled Loss of Use” related to your injury. This report is meticulously crafted to align with the latest Permanent Impairment Guidelines, ensuring that you have reached the stage of maximum medical improvement.

Our report explicitly confirms that your work-related injury has resulted in a lasting loss of function in the affected body part. We adhere rigorously to the Workers’ Compensation Guidelines for Determining Impairment, and it’s important to note that this article is based on the guidelines established by the New York State Workers’ Compensation system.

This commitment to adherence to established guidelines ensures the accuracy and reliability of the evaluation process, underscoring our dedication to guiding you through the intricacies of the Workers’ Compensation system.

When making treatment decisions, we consistently prioritize the needs of our patients above all else. Our commitment to staying informed about current research and developments in our field is essential for providing the best possible care. We remain vigilant about changes in insurance coverage and regulations, ensuring a high standard of quality care for our patients.

If you have received treatment from us, we take the responsibility of determining when you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI is declared once your treatment concludes, and there is no further improvement anticipated. Permanent disability is assessed when there remains a lasting impairment even after reaching MMI. This marks a crucial phase in the evaluation process.


“Scheduled Loss of use”.

“Scheduled Loss of Use” (SLU) is a term used in the context of Workers’ Compensation in the United States to refer to compensation provided to workers who have experienced a permanent loss of function or impairment in a specific body part as a result of a work-related injury or illness. It is a form of financial benefit designed to address the lasting impact on an employee’s ability to use a particular body part.

The process involves a medical evaluation to determine the extent of the permanent impairment, typically focusing on extremities like arms, legs, hands, or feet. The evaluation considers factors such as range of motion, strength, and overall function of the affected body part. Once the assessment is complete, the Workers’ Compensation Board uses established guidelines to calculate the compensation amount.

The SLU benefits are provided in addition to other Workers’ Compensation benefits, such as medical expenses and wage replacement. It acknowledges the permanent nature of the impairment and aims to provide financial support to the injured worker for the long-term consequences of the workplace injury.

It’s important for individuals dealing with a workplace injury to follow the proper procedures, including medical evaluations and documentation, to ensure they receive the appropriate compensation under the Scheduled Loss of Use provisions. Specific regulations and guidelines may vary by state, so it’s advisable to consult with legal or Workers’ Compensation professionals to navigate the process accurately.

The term “Disability” is employed to describe the impact of a workplace accident on an individual’s capacity to perform job duties. The degree of disability is adjudicated by a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge, who relies on available medical evidence and pertinent data. This medical evidence may be supplied by your treating physician, an employer’s medical consultant, or an independent medical examiner.

It’s imperative to make a clear distinction between disability and impairment. In our role as medical providers, we hold the responsibility for rendering the exclusive medical determination of “impairment.” Impairment is specifically defined as any anatomical or functional defect or loss. Achieving an accurate diagnosis of impairment necessitates a thorough medical examination and an unbiased evaluation of function.

To maintain consistency and accuracy in evaluating an individual’s disability resulting from a work-related injury or illness, these Guidelines provide a standardized approach. This framework is essential for a comprehensive assessment, ensuring that the disability is medically verified and follows a systematic and reliable method.


Workers’ Compensation Disability and Its Benefits:

Workers’ compensation disability benefits constitute monetary disbursements provided to employees who sustain injuries or fall ill due to job-related circumstances. This coverage extends beyond mere financial compensation, encompassing medical support, income replacement, and death benefits for eligible workers and their families.

While several states mandate that employers offer workers’ compensation coverage to their employees, it’s essential to note that this obligation isn’t universally applicable across all states. The requirement for coverage may vary, with some states not imposing this mandate on employers. In instances where coverage isn’t obligatory, employees still have potential avenues to access benefits. This could involve procuring benefits through private insurance or voluntarily participating in workers’ compensation programs. The specific regulations and options governing the availability of benefits may differ from one state to another, influencing the scope and nature of coverage.

In each state, there exists a Workers’ Compensation Board tasked with overseeing the program and settling disputes. Acceptance of workers’ compensation benefits entails the employee relinquishing the right to sue their employer for damages. Certain federal programs, such as the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Program or the Federal Employees’ Compensation Program, may extend coverage to employees in specific cases.

Compensation under this program may encompass partial salary reimbursement and the coverage of medical expenses. It’s crucial to note that workers’ compensation differs from unemployment benefits or disability insurance. Most employers are required to participate in state-mandated insurance programs. Workers may be eligible for various benefits through workers’ compensation, including coverage for medications and lost wages. Additionally, this program may support retraining or rehabilitation if an employee cannot return to their previous job. The following highlights some key benefits to consider in this context:

i. Salary Replacement: Workers’ compensation serves as a vital source of partial salary replacement for employees unable to work due to injury or illness. The specific amount can vary by state, but typically, workers can receive up to two-thirds of their regular pay.

ii. Survivor Benefits and Healthcare Cost Reimbursement: Workers’ compensation extends coverage beyond salaries to include medical expenses and rehabilitation costs. Employees are generally reimbursed for a portion of their medical bills. In unfortunate cases where employees succumb to work-related injuries or illnesses, surviving family members may also receive workers’ compensation benefits.

iii. Recipients Waive the Right to Sue: An integral aspect of workers’ compensation is that, in exchange for benefits, employees waive their right to sue their employer for damages. This mutual agreement acts as a safeguard, providing financial security to workers while limiting the potential liability for employers against negligence lawsuits.

Workers’ Compensation Vs. Disability Insurance: The primary distinction between workers’ compensation and disability insurance lies in their mandatory status and coverage scope. Workers’ compensation is obligatory in most states, providing coverage for lost wages and medical expenses. In contrast, disability insurance is optional and serves to replace a portion of an employee’s income during their inability to work.

Disability insurance is typically a personal purchase by the employee, while workers’ compensation is a provision by the employer. Moreover, workers’ compensation benefits are often temporary, whereas disability insurance benefits can extend indefinitely.

How Is Disability Determined? The determination of disability is a case-specific process, relying on medical information about impairments. States assess whether injured workers have permanent disabilities affecting their ability to perform specific tasks or work. It’s important to note that having a major life activity impeded doesn’t automatically qualify as a disability; the individual must demonstrate limitations compared to non-disabled individuals.

Once an employee establishes their disability, filing a claim with the state’s workers’ compensation board is the next step. A board of experts will scrutinize the claim, determining the awarded benefits based on their findings.

Forms of Disability Under the Workers’ Compensation Law: The Workers’ Compensation Law recognizes various categories of disability, each addressing specific circumstances:

  1. Temporary Total Disability:
    • Occurs when an employee is temporarily unable to perform any regular work duties due to illness.
    • The employee can resume work after recovering within a defined period.
  2. Permanent Total Disability:
    • Arises when an injury prevents an employee from working in their trained capacity.
    • Benefits may be provided for life or until retirement, depending on the state.
  3. Temporary Partial Disability:
    • Involves an employee’s inability to perform regular responsibilities.
    • The employer doesn’t pay the full salary as the employee cannot fulfill the entire job.
  4. Permanent Partial Disability:
    • Despite the ability to return to work, the employee has a lasting impairment affecting their pre-injury work capacity.

Assessment of Permanent Disability: Evaluation of permanent disability occurs when a lasting impairment persists after an individual reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI). These guidelines were established to systematically assess the permanent impairment resulting from disabilities.

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI): Determining MMI involves a medical opinion indicating full recovery from a work-related injury or illness, with no anticipated further improvement. Palliative or symptomatic treatment needs don’t negate MMI. For cases without surgery or fractures, MMI cannot be determined before 6 months from the injury date unless agreed otherwise.

The overseeing physician meticulously evaluates the patient’s advancements, lingering symptoms, and anticipated physical and occupational therapy treatments. Upon the achievement of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), a detailed report is furnished to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, facilitating the computation of Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits. To corroborate the treating physician’s determination of MMI, an independent medical evaluation may be sought.

In our capacity as physicians we assume the responsibility of evaluating various facets of the patient’s medical status, including the level of impairment and functional capabilities. This evaluation adheres strictly to our professional judgment, and the findings are communicated to both the Board and the relevant stakeholders involved. The Guidelines that govern this process offer explicit criteria, with a focus on impartial findings to ensure consistency and reliability in the assessment.

This comprehensive approach underscores our commitment to providing a thorough and accurate evaluation of the patient’s medical condition, addressing impairment levels and assessing functional capacities. The transparency and adherence to established guidelines contribute to the reliability of the evaluation process and serve to guide the determination of benefits and other relevant considerations.

To compile a permanent impairment report, we follow these steps:

  1. Identify the impacted body area or system, referencing the Guidelines.
  2. Examine relevant medical history and records.
  3. Conduct a thorough physical examination.
  4. Use a goniometer for active range of motion measurements.
  5. Assess deficits by comparing to the contralateral baseline reading, if applicable.
  6. Report work-related medical diagnosis and examination findings with proper citations.
  7. Abide by the Guidelines for determining impairment level.
  8. Analyze the impact on functional and exertional skills for non-schedule permanent disabilities.
  9. Consider the limits when calculating schedule loss of use values, ensuring compliance with guidelines.

Understanding these processes helps ensure accurate assessments, contributing to the legal decision evaluation of disability.

Types of Final Evaluation Examinations: Final evaluation examinations cater to two award categories, both requiring assessment by medical professionals:

1. Schedule Award for:

  • Impairment of extremities (including nervous system impact on extremities)
  • Loss of vision
  • Loss of hearing
  • Facial disfigurement

2. Non-Schedule Award for:

  • Classification as permanent partial disability
  • Classification as permanent total disability

These examinations, conducted by medical professionals, determine the extent of disability and its impact on the injured worker’s ability to earn a living. Unlike scheduled awards, these are based on the overall disability, not a fixed schedule.

Regardless of the examination type, it’s crucial to recognize these assessments as opportunities for continuous improvement in skills and knowledge as a medical professional.

To conduct these examinations in New York, approval from the Workers’ Compensation Board is mandatory. Providers must be authorized by the Board before evaluating patients in New York. Evaluations performed outside New York must adhere to the same Guidelines, including recommended forms by the Chair. This ensures a standardized and comprehensive approach to assessing and reporting on a patient’s condition, contributing to fair compensation decisions.

Schedule Awards Explained:

A schedule award is a compensation for enduring, enduring physical, and functional disabilities, not the initial injury. The following medical criteria must be met for a claim to be conclusively settled with a schedule award:

  1. There must be a permanent impairment of an extremity, permanent loss of vision or hearing, or permanent facial disfigurement, as defined by the law.
  2. The impairment must involve anatomical or functional loss, such as physical damage to bone, muscles, cartilage, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues.
  3. The applicant must have reached the maximum medical improvement, indicating the most progress medically.
  4. No residual impairments should exist in the systemic area (e.g., head, neck, back, etc.) before a claim qualifies for a scheduling examination of involved extremities in the same accident.

The Workers’ Compensation Law outlines the value for a percentage loss or loss of use of body parts. The schedule award amount depends on the disability’s extent and the allocated number of weeks for healing. Individuals unable to work due to a permanent disability can receive disability benefits.

In certain states, employers are mandated to offer workers’ compensation coverage to their employees, but this obligation doesn’t apply universally across all states. In states where coverage isn’t obligatory for employers, employees may still have avenues to receive benefits. This can be facilitated through private insurance or voluntary participation in workers’ compensation programs. The availability of benefits may vary based on the specific regulations and options within each state.

To be eligible for a schedule award, proof must establish a direct link between the disability and the work injury. The disability’s severity must also hinder the ability to work. Schedule awards aim to financially support injured workers unable to return to their previous job or secure employment in another field.

Non-Schedule Awards (Classification):

Permanent impairments not covered by a schedule, encompassing heart, lung, skin, or brain diseases, and certain extremity impairments, are deemed non-schedule awards. Extremity impairments ineligible for a schedule award include conditions like major joint issues (shoulders, elbow, hips, knees) with specific criteria:

  1. Progressive and Painful Conditions: Objective signs of inflammation, severe degenerative arthritis on X-rays, and minimal improvement post-comprehensive treatment.
  2. Distal Extremities Chronic Pain: Conditions like Chronic Painful Extremity Syndrome, Sudeck’s Atrophy, or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, with observable symptoms and little improvement after chronic pain treatment modalities.
  3. Other Extremity Complications: Issues like lengthy bone non-union, aseptic necrosis in bones (e.g., femur head), severe joint instability, Paget’s disease, cancer, joint-related Caisson’s disease, constant ulcerations, joint dislocations, neuromas, poorly healing stumps, and failed joint replacements.

Non-schedule awards are granted based on the severity and impact of these conditions, ensuring fair compensation for workers dealing with such impairments beyond the standard schedule categories.

Abbreviation Codes used by Workers Compensation Board:

  • Mi: Mild
  • Mo: Moderate
  • Ma: Marked
  • F: Flexion deficits
  • E: Extension deficits
  • DIP: Distal interphalangeal joint
  • PIP: Proximal interphalangeal joint
  • MCP: Metacarpophalangeal joint
  • CMC: Carpo-metacarpal joint
  • MTP: Metatarsophalangeal joint
  • SLU: Schedule loss of use
  • ANCR: Accident Notice Casual Relation
  • ODNCR: Occupational Disease Notice Casual Relation
  • Per NYS Statute: Thumb, First finger (Index finger), Second Finger (Middle/Long Finger), Third Finger (Ring Finger), Fourth Finger (Small/Little/Pinky Finger)


  • <: Less than
  • ≤: Less than or equal to
  • >: Greater than
  • ≥: Greater than or equal to

These codes and abbreviations are essential for accurate documentation and communication within the Workers Compensation system, ensuring clarity and precision in describing various medical conditions and parameters. For specific guidelines, it’s recommended to consult the Workers Compensation Board website of the respective state or seek advice from a Workers Compensation attorney.

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