New Hampshire's system of workers' compensation is compulsory, meaning that employers are required to provide workers' compensation insurance to their employees. Workers' compensation insurance may be provided through private insurance carriers or self-insurance. Waivers may be permitted to exclude certain employees from coverage, including corporate officers and sole proprietors.
Medical Benefits are provided to employees entitled to workers' compensation benefits, including coverage for necessary medical care.
The employee may select the initial treating physician from doctors participating in the employer's managed care plan. An employer is restricted to requesting no more than two second opinions per year unless they obtain a waiver from the workers' compensation commissioner.
Indemnity benefits are payable to injured workers to help make up for lost income. There is a waiting period of 3 days before a worker is eligible for indemnity benefits, but if the worker's disability lasts more than 14 days indemnity benefits become retroactive to the date of the injury. The waiting period may be subject to waiver if the employee returns to alternate duty within five days of the injury.
Benefits available to injured workers include the following:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are paid to workers who are unable to work due to injury, but who are expected to make full or partial recovery such that they may return to work. Benefits are based upon 60% of the injured worker's average pre-injury weekly wage, subject to a cap, and continue for the duration of the temporary disability.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
When a worker is not expected to recover from a total disability caused by a work-related injury, and as a result suffers a total loss of earning capacity, the worker becomes eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. In New Hampshire PTD benefits are calculated based upon 60% of the injured worker's pre-injury weekly wage, subject to a cap, and may continue indefinitely. Starting three years after the date of injury, benefits are periodically adjusted for inflation.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
Once an injured worker has recovered to the maximum possible extent, the worker may be able to return to employment but nonetheless remain partially disabled, and may potentially qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. In New Hampshire PPD benefits are determined based on a statutory schedule, and 60% of the injured worker's average weekly wage, subject to a cap, multiplied by number of weeks for scheduled body part percentage. For a whole-person award, PPD benefits for unscheduled injuries are based upon an injury rating, and are payable for a maximum of 350 weeks.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
When a worker suffers an injury that limits his ability to return to work, resulting in a reduction of income as a result of reduced hours or wages, the injured worker may be eligible to receive a benefit based on the difference between the worker's pre-injury earnings and their reduced, post-injury earnings. In New Hampshire, TPD benefits are paid based upon 60% of the difference between the injured worker's pre-injury and post-injury wage, subject to a cap. TPD benefits may be payable for up to 262 weeks.
For some, more serious injuries, workers' compensation indemnity benefits may be paid according to a statutory schedule, instead of following the standard model of the weekly benefit based on the duration of the disability. Scheduled injuries include such injuries as the amputation of an arm, the loss of a dominant hand, the loss of a leg, the loss of a foot, the loss of an eye, or loss of hearing in an ear.
Coverage may be available for cumulative trauma, disfigurement, mental stress and occupational hearing loss.
When a worker dies as the result of a work-related injury, workers' compensation pays additional benefits, including a burial allowance, and benefits for a surviving spouse and dependents. Benefits may continue for minors until the age of 18, the age of 25 if the dependent is a student, or indefinitely in the event of disability. Spousal benefits end upon remarriage.
Attorney fees are limited to 20% of retroactive indemnity benefits, and are subject to review by the Department of Labor.
This article provides a quick overview of the benefits available to injured workers, but the full formulas used for assessment of benefits, coordination of different types of benefits, and assessment of injuries and disability ratings can quickly complicate the determination of benefits. Also, states frequently revise their workers' compensation laws. Most workers who suffer a significant injury or wage loss as the result of a workplace injury will benefit from consulting a workers' compensation lawyer.
The state agency responsible for workers' compensation is:
New Hampshire Workers' Compensation Division
Department of Labor
95 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
(603) 271-3176 or 1-800-272-4353