Category 1, 2, & 3 Impairment Ratings PPD Settlement Rules

How Does the Permanent Partial Disability Work?

  • The PPD rules look at the part of your body which is injured, the accepted medical conditions. They tell the doctors how to measure the extent of your injury.
  • The rules then tell L&I how much money they should pay you for your injury.
  • The PPD rules are divided into two systems.
    • The category rating system, found in RCW 51.32.080 and WAC 296-20-200 through WAC 296-20-690. It looks at body systems.
    • The Specified Disability System is found at RCW 51.32.080.
    • These are two different systems. Be careful not to confuse them.

What are the Permanent Partial Disability Settlement Rules?

The PPD rules tell the doctors how to measure your impairment. The PPD rules tell the claims managers how much, if any money L&I will pay you for that impairment.

These PPD rules are complex. They were written by politicians and insurance people and intended to be understood by doctors, lawyers, and judges.

Where Can I Find the Permanent Partial Disability Rules?

The PPD rules are part of the law governing L&I claims. You can find these rules by looking at the statutes in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW ) Title 51, and you can find the administrative details in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Title 296. See our Things You Need to Know page for links to these laws.

What is a Category Rating of 1,2,or 3?

The category rating system is a volume of complex medical-legal rules and category award charts. The rules are fairly static but the charts change every year based on your date of injury.

The category rating section for body systems includes: cervical, dorsal, dorsolumbar and lumbosacral spine, pelvis, neurological system, mental health, respiratory, taste and smell, speech, skin, and internal organs.

Category 1 usually pays zero, Category 2 pays some money, and Category 3 pays more. The charts for your date of injury year will show you how much money your category rating is worth.

Permanent Partial Disability Award Charts

Here are the Permanent Partial Disability Award Charts. These charts contain both the category awards and the disability schedule award schedule.

What is the Disability Award Schedule?

The specified disability section has complex medical-legal rules and a PPD Award Schedule which changes each year based on your date of injury.

The specified disabilities section includes: legs, feet, arms, heads, eyes, and hearing.

The important details are contained in the Washington Annotative Code (WAC). Each specific body system or specified disability in the WAC is roughly divided into two, with rules for evaluation of that category followed by the specified body system and the corresponding objective clinical findings. There are also general rules for impairment rating RCW 51.32.080 and WAC 296-20-2010. There are special rules for evaluation of permanent bodily impairment WAC 296-20-220. There are Permanent Partial Disability Awards Schedules which change every year. These award schedules convert percentages or categories into dollars, and allow for modest yearly increases to reflect the percentage change in the consumer price index.

The WAC’s provide complex medical/legal determinations meant to attach a percentage to an impairment of loss of function. That percentage is taken to the PPD schedule for the year of your injury, to determine the dollars you should be awarded at claim closure. The money is often paid out over the course of several months. The Disability Award Schedule for permanent partial disability can be found here.

What is an Impairment Rating?

Impairment Ratings are performed by doctors in anticipation of claim closure. The rating is the doctor applying the PPD rules to your L&I accepted medical conditions. These impairment ratings are usually found in an IME report or your physicians final report.

Be careful of IME’s. They often produce unfriendly and unfair impairment ratings. Learn about IME’s at Independent Medical Examinations.

Washington State L&I Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Award Charts.

The award charts convert the impairment ratings into dollars. These charts change each year on July 1. Look at your date of injury then pick the correct chart by looking at the right year.

Permanent Partial Disability Awards Charts 

These rules are complex.

If these rules are too complex, not to worry.  You don’t have to know how to apply the rules to get paid. We can tell you what L&I plans to pay you, if you can tell us:

  1. The date of your injury
  2. Your accepted medical conditions
  3. Your category or percentage rating for each medical condition. The information is often contain in the IME report or your attending physicians closing report.

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Chris Sharpe

Meet Chris Sharpe

Christopher Sharpe is the go to attorney for injured persons. His law firm is helpful, honest, and knowledgeable about workers' compensation and personal injury law in the State of Washington. Chris has been helping injured Washington State workers for over 40 years. He has built a successful law practice by thoroughly educating, honestly helping, and successfully representing workers throughout Washington State.

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