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How Long Does Workers’ Comp Last in Illinois?

Written by
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.
Victoria Muñoz
Lead Attorney
Published June 24, 2024
5 min read
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If you have a work-related injury or illness, you can collect wage replacement and medical care benefits for a limited time through Illinois workers’ compensation. Most workers only receive payments temporarily, but that money can help you and your family navigate recovery before you can return to work.


When do workers’ comp payments start?

Your employer should send your first workers’ comp payment within 14 days of when you notified them of your injury. Then your checks should continue at the same frequency as your regular paychecks. That means if you usually get paid every two weeks, your workers’ comp checks should also arrive every two weeks.

Read more about what to do if your first check is late.


Workers’ comp payment rates in Illinois

Illinois workers’ comp pays you at a rate of two-thirds of the average weekly wages (AWW) you earned before your injury. There is also a minimum payment of $373.33 per week and a maximum of $1,897.92 per week.

See how much workers' comp pays in your area.


How long does workers’ comp last in Illinois?

After a work injury, you will receive temporary payment benefits. Injured workers in Illinois can collect those workers’ comp payments until one of three things happens:

The most straightforward way for your benefits to end is by making a full recovery and returning to your regular job. You’ll still get benefits if you can only do light-duty or modified-duty work, but workers’ comp is only designed to last until you can return to your full work duties.

If you never fully recover to your pre-injury condition, your benefits will end at MMI. Your workers’ comp doctor determines how your recovery is progressing and when you’ve reached MMI. At that point, you will transition to permanent disability benefits (more on those in the next section).

In most cases, the workers’ comp insurance company will try to negotiate a settlement at this point. A lump-sum settlement allows the insurance company to close your claim and it allows you to get all of your benefit money all at once instead of waiting on insurance to send checks and to pay medical bills.

Your workers’ comp benefits could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, depending on your situation.


How long permanent benefits last

For workers who reach MMI but still can’t go back to their previous work, there are two types of permanent disability benefits:

  • Permanent partial disability (PPD) is paid for a set number of weeks to workers who can still work but not at the same level as before their workplace injury.

  • Permanent total disability (PTD) is paid indefinitely (the rest of your life) to workers who can’t work anymore — meaning a disability rating of 100% — or lose full use of both hands, both arms, both feet, both legs, both eyes, or any combination of two of those body parts (such as one hand and one arm). If you qualify for PTD, also consider applying for SSDI.

How much your benefits pay is based on two-thirds of your pre-injury AWW minus however much you earn each week after returning to work. There are also maximum and minimum payments, which you can find here.

Permanent partial disability length

How long these payments last depends on which part of your body was injured and the disability rating from your workers’ comp doctor.

Illinois law lists what it calls scheduled injuries, which set a maximum number of weeks that you could receive benefits for injuries to certain body parts. In most cases, that maximum multiplied by your disability rating is how long your benefits will last.

As an example, let’s say you lost hearing in one ear because of your injury. Hearing loss is a scheduled injury and pays PPD for up to 54 weeks. If your doctor assigns a disability rating of 50%, then you’ll get payments for 27 weeks (54 weeks x 50%).

If you have an injury or condition that affects your whole body, Illinois pays whole-person injury benefits for up to 500 weeks. Multiply 500 by your disability rating to get your length of benefits. So if you have a condition that results in 20% loss of use of your whole body, your payments last 100 weeks (500 weeks x 20%).

In cases of serious and permanent disfigurement to your head, face, neck, chest above the armpits, arm, hand, or leg below the knee, you’re entitled to up to 162 weeks of PPD.

Length of permanent workers’ comp benefits in Illinois

Affected body part or condition

Maximum number of weeks

Thumb

76

Index finger

43

Middle finger

38

Ring finger

27

Pinky finger

22

Big toe

38

Any other toe

13

Hand

205

Carpal tunnel

28.5 to 57

Arm

253

Arm amputation above the elbow

270

Arm amputation at shoulder joint

323

Foot

167

Leg

215

Leg amputation above the knee

242

Leg amputation at hip joint

296

Eye

162

Removal of the eye

173

Hearing loss in one ear

54

Hearing loss in both ears

215

Loss of one testicle

54

Loss of both testicles

162


Can workers' comp stop paying without notice?

The workers’ comp insurance company can’t stop paying you unless it has a legitimate reason for ending your benefits. For example, your benefits will end if your doctor clears you to fully return to your regular work. Another case when benefits could end early is when the insurance company learns that you’ve lied about your injury or how it happened.

Any time your employer stops paying benefits before you return to work, they must give you a written explanation no later than the last date of your payments.

If your payments end unexpectedly or incorrectly, talk to a workers’ comp lawyer. They will be able to explain your rights and help you fight for the benefits you’re owed. You can also petition your arbitrator to assess penalties and attorney fees.


Who gets a workers’ comp settlement?

Not every workers’ comp claim ends with a settlement but many injuries that require months of missed work do lead to a lump-sum settlement offer from insurance.

Workers’ comp insurance companies are more likely to offer to settle when they think you’ll need payments for months or years — especially if you’re approaching MMI and still need medical care. You’re also more likely to receive a settlement offer if your injury requires a long or unpredictable recovery.

A settlement allows insurance to avoid ongoing payments, and it allows you to get all the money you’ll be owed upfront instead of having to wait for checks through the mail or for insurance to clear every medical treatment you want.

Related: When Will Workers' Comp Offer a Settlement?


What’s a fair settlement?

Multiple factors determine what the right settlement is for your situation. At the most basic level, you need to negotiate enough to cover your lost wages from missed work time and all future medical treatment you could need.

Calculating a lump-sum settlement isn’t easy so we recommend getting professional help from a workers’ comp lawyer. A local lawyer is trained in your city and state laws so they can help you negotiate a fair settlement. The insurance company will also have its own lawyer (maybe even a whole team of them). Getting your own legal representation levels the playing field.

Read more about average settlements by body part to better understand those variables.


Get answers to your workers’ comp questions

Millions of Americans are injured at work each year. Despite how many workers need workers’ compensation, the process is highly technical and difficult to navigate alone. Knowing average payment amounts and how long they last can help, but so much of your experience is unique to you.

Atticus is a nationwide law firm with local Illinois lawyers who can help you through the process. If you’re unsure whether a lawyer can help your case, start by filling out our workers’ comp quiz.  Our team will reach out to learn more about your situation, answer your questions, and connect you with a lawyer if it’s a fit for your case. Talking to Atticus is free and if you decide to work with one of our attorneys, you’ll get a free consultation and won’t pay anything until after you get a settlement.

Settle your workers' comp claim today.


Related resources:

5 Common Questions About Workers’ Comp Lawyers

A hand draw portrait of a smiling, helpful lawyer.
By Victoria Muñoz

How Much a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Costs in Every State

A hand draw portrait of a smiling, helpful lawyer.
By Victoria Muñoz

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How long ago did you get an injury or illness at work?

A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.

Victoria Muñoz

Lead Attorney

Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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