Temporary Disability Benefits

Partial Wage Replacement for Time Off From Work

If you are injured on the job and taken off work by your treating physician, you may be entitled to temporary disability benefits for the time you miss from work. Temporary disability benefits are paid by the insurance company (or self-insured employer) to replace lost wages when taken off work.

Doctor’s Orders

Temporary disability benefits may be due during this “disability period” if the authorized treating physician, who is treating the work-related injury:

  • Takes the injured worker off work because of the injury
  • Reduces or limits the number of hours the employee can work
  • (Employer) reduces the employee’s wages due to the work-related injury

Total vs. Partial

There are two types of benefits that an injured employee may be eligible to receive during the disability period—temporary total disability benefits and temporary partial disability benefits.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits

TPD benefits may apply if the injured employee is placed on “light duty” or restricted to working fewer hours than normal by the authorized treating physician.


Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits

An employee may be entitled to TTD benefits while taken off work by the authorized treating physician due to the workplace injury, as long as the benefit amount is within the maximum or minimum amounts established by Tennessee law.

Temporary disability benefits are not related to Social Security disability or any short- or long-term disability offered by your employer that is not workers' compensation related. Nor are these benefits paid by the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits

During the course of treatment for a work-related injury, the treating physician may determine an injured employee can return to work on “light duty.”

Follow Doctor’s Restrictions

If the authorized treating physician restricts an injured employee’s ability to work, such as limiting the number of hours worked or the type of work performed, it is very important that the physician’s instructions and restrictions are followed at all times. The employee should get a detailed description of work restrictions from the doctor to provide the employer. If the employer can provide work within those restrictions, it should do so. Failure to report for light-duty offered by the employer may terminate temporary disability benefits.  

Pay Decrease Or Restrictions

If the employee is paid a lesser pay or is restricted to fewer hours because of the light-duty, the employee is entitled to "temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits”. These benefits are figured at 66 2/3% of the difference between the gross light duty wages and the employee’s average weekly wage, subject to the same maximum and minimum workers' compensation rates described above. The employer must submit a Wage Statement (Form C-41) to the insurance adjuster.

Calculating TPD Benefits

Example: If an employee’s average weekly wage was $600.00 per week before being injured, but the same employee was only able to earn $200.00 per week while on light duty, the temporary partial disability benefit would be calculated in this manner:

$600.00 - $200.00 = $400.00 (difference in pay due to the light-duty restrictions)

66 2/3% x $400.00 = $266.68.

Therefore, the employee will earn $200.00 in wages and would receive $266.68 in workers' compensation temporary partial disability benefits. 

However, if the employer is unable to meet the restrictions provided by the treating physician, the injured employee would remain off work and temporary total disability benefits described below would continue.

Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits

Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits may apply if the injured employee is taken off all work by the authorized treating physician. Benefits start on the eighth day of the disability; unless the disability lasts fourteen (14) days, then benefits will be back-paid to the first day of disability.

Required Paperwork

The employer must submit a Wage Statement (Form C-41) to the insurance adjuster. This wage statement will list the injured employee’s gross earnings for the fifty-two (52) weeks prior to the date of injury and should show all earnings including overtime and bonuses. 

Calculating TTD Benefits

The amount of TTD benefits is usually two-thirds of your average weekly wages earned during the 52 weeks prior to your injury.

To determine the benefit, gross earnings are totaled and divided by 52 (the number of weeks in a year). The result is the employee's average weekly wage. The average weekly wage is multiplied by 0.6667 to determine the employee's weekly compensation rate.

If an injured employee has worked for his/her employer for less than 52 weeks at the time of the injury, the weekly compensation rate must be figured by one of the following two methods:

  • By counting the number of weeks the injured employee has worked for that employer and calculating gross earnings for those weeks. The gross earnings are divided by the actual number of weeks employed with that employer; or,
  • By calculating the average weekly wage earned by a similar worker employed with the same employer performing the same job as the injured employee during the 52 weeks prior to the injury.

Payment & Timing of Benefits

These benefits are not usually paid in the employee’s regular paycheck.  Instead, they are most often paid in a separate check by the employer’s insurance company.

No benefits are due for those first seven calendar days of the disability period unless the disability period lasts at least 14 calendar days.  Employees may want to use other paid leave options (sick leave, vacation days, etc.) for those first seven unpaid calendar days if their period of disability doesn’t last 14 calendar days.

Temporary disability payments for work missed due to a compensable work-related injury or illness must be paid to the injured employee no later than 15 calendar days after the notice of injury.  Unpaid or untimely paid benefits may be subject to a penalty.

Resolve Issues

The Bureau’s M.O.S.T. program can help resolve issues and clarify the law on which workers’ compensation benefits are rightfully due under Tennessee law.

Stopping Temporary Disability Benefits

Temporary disability benefits by stop due to any of the following circumstances:

  • when an injured employee is released by the authorized treating physician to return to work without restrictions
  • if an injured employee refuses to comply with a reasonable request for medical examination or to accept medical treatment, compensation may be stopped for the period of time an employee continues the refusal
  • when an injured employee’s treating physician determines the employee has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), and the compensability of the injury has not been contested

Payments must continue until the earlier of the following events:

  • An injured employee accepts or rejects a job offered by the employer at a wage equal to or greater than the employee's pre-injury wage; or,
  • A mediation is held and a report is filed by the Bureau.

Need More Help?

If you have additional questions, please call 615-532-4812 or 800-332-2667 or contact us by email at wc.info@tn.gov.