My question involves workers compensation law for the state of: South Carolina. I injured back at work. MRI showed bulging disc. Also have 4 other discs in lower back with bulging, degeneration, curvature, stenosis, slipped disc, arthritus, muscle, nerve and ligament damage, etc. Pain never goes away. Had 2 injections & therapy with minimal success. Was told surgery not option because 5 disc levels involved. Was placed at MMI after approx 6 months following most recent injury. Doc gave work restrictions no lifting over 15 lbs, no prolonged standing, sitting, driving, walking; frequent breaks; no bending or twisting. Don't think company will accomadate due to nature of my job. Been in same type of business for over 30 yrs which includes consistent lifting and moving of products, driving, etc. I am almost 60 yrs old, do not have college degree, limited transferable skills and a really screwed up back. Don't know if anyone will hire me within my restrictions and not sure if I can even manage a job even if it is part time due to the pain & limited mobility. The case worker asked me after last appt if i had a lawyer & I told her I did not. She then told me that rating would only be around 5% to 20% & I should start looking for another job.
These are my questions:
1) Are the percentages she mentioned correct???
2) What can I expect to happen at the settlement meeting?
3) Is the settlement amt based soley on the impairment rating or do they take into account my age, limited education, possible inability to get another job or ability to even work and future loss of wages/lower paying job or part time wages & future medical needs.
4) How do I handle future medical needs at settlement?
5) I was told to have an attorney review the settlement offer before signing. Should I tell the WC carrier before the settlement meeting that I am going to have it reviewed by an attorney? Will this hurt or help me with regards to what they offer?
6) Is there any way to calculate what settlement amt might be?
7) Should I go ahead and apply for SSD?
I am extremely discouraged, frustrated and worried about my future financial situation and would appreciate any help and advise in order to protect myself!