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25 Illinois Workers Compensation Terms You Should Know


I was having an online chat with an injured worker the other day about attorney fees and told them how I don’t think attorneys should take a fee on TTD payments in most cases. They responded by asking, “What is TTD?” I made an error in assuming that they knew what it meant because they were in to their case already. The result is me writing a post about Illinois work comp terms I think everyone should know.

TTD – Starting with that one makes sense. It stands for temporary total disability benefits. In plain English, if you are authorized off work due to an injury on the job, you are entitled to 2/3 of your average weekly wage, tax free. TTD is the legal term for those payments.

AWW – This is short for average weekly wage. It’s the average wage you earned in the 52 weeks prior to your accident. It’s used to help calculate your payment rates for benefits like TTD and PPD.

PPD – Well, I just mentioned PPD, I better explain it. It stands for permanent partial disability. When you are all better and your case is ready to be settled, your payment will be based on the extent of your injury times your PPD rate which is 60% of your average weekly wage. It’s a weird formula we use to figure out what a settlement is worth.

MMI – Means maximum medical improvement. When you are done with your medical treatment and as good as you can get, you are at MMI. Hopefully that means you are back to 100% but it could also mean that you have some permanent restrictions that your employer must follow.

Application for adjustment of claim – This is the paperwork that is filed with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission to officially start your case. Doing so prevents your case from being barred for waiting too long to file. This is the first thing an attorney will do for you.

Arbitrator – Our cases don’t have Judges or Juries. We have Arbitrators which are almost the same as Judges, but you won’t see anyone in a black robe. They preside over hearings and are the neutral party that will decide if you have a case if there is a dispute.

19(b) Petition – This is a motion your lawyer can file to get you an expedited hearing with the Arbitrator.

IME – Independent medical examination. This is a one time medical exam that the insurance company can send you to. It’s a tool they use to cut off your benefits and often these doctors make a lot of money from these exams and skew heavily in favor of the employer/insurance company.

Off work slip – It’s a note from your doctor that says you can’t work due to your injury. You need this in order to receive TTD benefits.

Form 45 – This is the form your employer is supposed to fill out when you report a work related accident to them.

Nurse Case Manager or NCM – Sometimes the insurance company will ask a nurse to monitor your case. They have a right to ask your doctors for medical records and bills. They don’t have a right to speak to your doctor, attend appointments or try and steer what medical care you receive. A good attorney will stop them from ruining your case.

Status Hearing  – Once an application for adjustment of claim is filed, your case gets assigned to an Arbitrator. Every 90 days there will be a status hearing which is a time when your attorney or the insurance company attorney can file motions related to your case and potentially ask for a trial.

No fault – This refers to the fact that you don’t have to prove negligence when filing a workers’ compensation case. Fault doesn’t generally matter in determining whether or not you are entitled to benefits.

Medicare Set Aside – When you are at MMI, if it’s anticipated that you will have future medical care related to your injury, the insurance company must take in to account the interests of Medicare.  So they have to give you money on top of your settlement to pay for those future costs. It doesn’t happen in every case, but does happen a lot.

Wage Differential – When you are at MMI if you have permanent restrictions that your employer can’t accommodate and find a new job that pays much less than the old one you may be entitled to wage differential benefits. This gives you 2/3 of the difference of what you’d currently be earning in the old job versus what you can make now. These benefits last for five year or until you are 65, whichever is longer.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act – This is the set of laws that govern all Illinois work injuries.

Mileage Rate – This is the amount the insurance company has to pay you per mile to travel to an IME or in some cases to your doctor. It’s set by the IRS and as of 2021 was .56 per mile.

Above The Red Line  – These are cases that were filed more than three years ago. At the status hearing they will automatically get a trial date unless your attorney provides evidence that the case isn’t ready to be tried.

RTW – Stands for return to work. You might hear a lawyer or Arbitrator ask what was the RTW date or if a worker has RTW’d.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission or IWCC – This is the State agency that runs the work comp system, employs Arbitrators, etc.

Illinois Industrial Commission or IIC – This is the old name of the IWCC.

Pre-trial – This is an informal hearing between your lawyer, the insurance company lawyer and the Arbitrator. Each side will say what the disputes are in the case and what they think the evidence will show. The Arbitrator will usually then make a non-binding recommendation.

WebEx – Similar to Zoom. It’s an online system that is being used since Covid for status hearings, pre-trials and other case management issues.

Q-Dex – This is a book that lists the results of trials from cases at the IWCC.

Motion To Consolidate – Some injured workers have more than one accident. When that happens and there is more than one Application For Adjustment Of Claim, a motion to consolidate will put them all as one big case to make the process more concise.

Are there any terms that we didn’t mention? Anything else you want to know? Call us at 312-346-5578 any time to speak with a lawyer for free.



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