The definition of permanent and total disability is not limited to cases of invalidity—that
is, cases of complete helplessness. On the other hand, inability to continue in a
specified type of employment or industry does not, in itself, constitute permanent
and total disability. Many individuals will have had employment or be potentially
employable if rehabilitated. Some will never have been in the labor force or be considered
for it due to the nature of their handicap. The impairment may be physical or mental,
organic or functional, and of such a degree as to interfere with faculties, such as
senses, reasoning, mobility, etc. It may exist from birth, be acquired during lifetime
or result from accident. It may be obvious, such as loss of a limb, or can be revealed
only by medical examination.
In general, permanent and total disability means that an individual has some permanent
physical or mental impairment, disease or loss that “substantially precludes” him from engaging in useful occupations within his competence, such as holding a
job or homemaking.
a. 4551.1 Definition of permanent disability
The term “permanent” means a physiological, anatomical or emotional impairment verifiable by medical findings.
The impairment must be of major importance and must be a condition not likely to improve
and which will continue throughout the lifetime of the individual. Any condition considered
as not likely to respond to any known therapeutic procedures shall be deemed permanent.
Any condition which is likely to remain static or to become worse unless certain therapeutic
measures are carried out shall be considered permanent so long as treatment is not
available, not advisable or the individual refuses treatment and his decision is reasonable.
b. 4551.11 Permanence does not rule out recovery
Permanence does not rule out the possibility of vocational rehabilitation or even
recovery. The discovery of new drugs or advances in medical treatment may change a
permanent situation. The term need not be considered as “everlasting” or “unchangeable” but as probably continuing indefinitely as distinct from “temporary.”
c. 4551.2 Definition of total disability
Total disability is not absolute since it must be considered in its relation to the
ability of the individual to be active in carrying out specified responsibilities
in connection with employment or homemaking. Total disability must be related to age,
training, skills and work experience and the probable functioning of the individual
in his particular situation as related to his disability.
d. 4551.21 No time factor in total disability
No time factor is involved in the concept of total disability.
e. 4551.22 Members of society expected to perform certain activities
As members of society, adults are expected to take care of themselves and their families.
For some people this means gainful employment; for others it means the maintenance
of a home and caring for children. To do this, individuals must be able to perform
certain activities demanded of everyone, such as walking, standing, bending, lifting,
using the senses of sight, touch, hearing, ability to talk, learn, act purposefully,