A person is considered disabled when he/she has lost the ability to earn wages because of an injury. Workers' compensation does not pay weekly benefits for the injury itself or for pain; it pays for the loss of the ability to earn wages caused by the injury, i.e., the loss of earning capacity. There are two categories of disability under the law » total disability and partial disability.
A person is considered totally disabled when he/she is unable to earn any wages in any type of work due to the effects of the work injury. A. totally disabled person is someone whose injury prevents him/her from performing his/her regular job as well as any other type of light work, i.e., a person who has a total loss of earning capacity.
A person is considered partially disabled when he/she is unable to perform his/her regular job due to the effects of the work injury but still has the ability to perform other types of light work. It does not matter whether light work is available from the employer. The determining factor is the ability to perform light work, not the availability of light work.
Odd Lot Doctrine
The law provides an exception to the above definitions of total and partial disability. Known as the odd lot doctrine, this law allows some injured workers who are partially disabled to receive workers’ compensation for total disability. This law provides that an injured worker who is partially disabled based solely on his/her work injury may be considered totally disabled when he/she is unemployable because of the injury combined with his/her age, education, background, abilities and training. Under such circumstances, the Court may consider such a person to be among the “odd lot” of unemployable persons and, therefore, totally disabled.