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Permanent Functional Impairment (PFI)


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What is functional impairment?

Impairment refers to a change in function of the injured part of the body as a result of a work injury as assessed by medical means. It is not an assessment of other medical problems unrelated to your work injury. Impairment is different from disability.

Disability is a decrease, loss or absence of an individual’s capacity to meet personal, social or occupational demands. Compensation for disability is provided through other benefits, like wage-loss benefits, health care benefits, etc. You may wish to discuss this with your Case Manager.

What is permanent?

Permanent, means the medical status of your work injury is permanent. For example:

  • No active medical treatment planned.
  • No further potential for medical improvement.

There is a guideline for PFI assessments as some injuries are best assessed after a certain period of time. Please consult your Case Manager for further information.

How is impairment measured?

Impairment is determined by the Workplace Health, Safety & Compensation Commission’s approved Permanent Functional Impairment Rating Schedule which is similar to schedules used by other compensation jurisdictions in Canada. The American Medical Association (AMA) Guides may also be used to evaluate the extent of functional impairment. As many cases do not fit neatly into the rating schedule, it is a guide and the examining physician will use his or her judgment to estimate the percentage of total body impairment.

The rating schedule illustrates that different parts of the body are more functionally important than others. Total body functioning is evaluated at 100 percent, and impairment of any body part is a percentage of the total. For example, losing the index finger is considered 5 percent PFI of total body function. A similar principle applies to all parts of the body including back and neck injuries.

A rating is not given specifically for pain and suffering. However, the impairment rating makes allowance for pain that may accompany the condition(s).

Disfigurement or severe scarring resulting from burns or other trauma are rated on the basis of physical impairment and cosmetic impairment. Cosmetic impairment generally does not apply to normal, uncomplicated healing of surgical incisions.

Can a PFI be rated for cosmetic impairment?

Disfigurement or severe scarring resulting from burns or other trauma are rated on the basis of physical impairment and cosmetic impairment. Cosmetic impairment generally does not apply to normal, uncomplicated healing of surgical incisions.

What is the process for a PFI assessment?

A PFI is determined by medical doctors with special training in performing PFI assessments and who have the necessary
expertise to apply the rating schedule. These doctors review the available medical information and in most cases, this includes an examination. In specific cases such as hearing loss and finger amputations, an examination may not be required by the Commission’s medical doctors.

How do I arrange a PFI assessment?

You do not need to apply for a PFI. You can ask your case manager about it. Your case manager is very knowledgeable about PFI requirements and where appropriate, will refer your claim to the Commission’s Health Care Services Department.

What happens if I have received a PFI and my condition later deteriorates?

If deterioration is supported by medical evidence, you may request a further review of your PFI rating. You should contact the Commission if this happens.

How is the benefit calculated from the PFI rating?

The benefit is calculated by multiplying the percentage rating by the Commission’s maximum compensable wage limit which for 2010 is $51,235.00. The minimum benefit is $1,000.00. The maximum is $51,235.00. For example: losing your index finger is considered a 5 percent PFI. When multiplied by the $51,235.00 the total is $2,561.75, so the worker is entitled to receive this amount.

Does a PFI benefit affect my entitlement to other benefits?

No. The PFI is not a final settlement. Entitlement to other benefits is determined separately in accordance with the Commission’s legislation and policies.