An injured worker does not have to be absolutely helpless in order to be awarded permanent total disability benefits under Iowa work comp law. A worker is considered to be permanently and totally disabled when an injury prevents the worker from performing the type of jobs his experience, training, education, intelligence and physical capacities would otherwise permit him to perform. Additionally, a finding that a worker could theoretically perform some small amount of work does not necessarily rule out an award of permanent total disability benefits.
Older workers with preexisting problems can suffer a moderate injury that knocks them out of the workforce and entitles them to an award of permanent total disability.
Byers v. Guardsmark, LLC and New Hampshire Insurance Company is a January 17, 2019 Appeal Decision from the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner that provides a good example of an older worker who ends up being awarded permanent total disability.