Case Update: Court Determines Claimant Is Not Entitled to Receive TTD Payments After Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement


In this decision, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals addresses whether a workers' compensation claimant who has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) still receive temporary total disability benefits pursuant to the Maryland Workers' Compensation Act.

The facts in this appeal involved a Claimant who was injured in the course of her employment. Following her injury, Claimant received temporary total disability (TTD) benefits during the period of treatment where she remained unable to work. Claimant ultimately decided not to undergo the surgery recommended by her treating physician. Subsequently, the Insurer sent Claimant for an Independent Medical Evolution and the report of that IME physician indicated that Claimant had reached MMI inasmuch as she did not wish to proceed with surgery, and that she was capable of working sedentary duty. As a result of this opinion, Claimant's TTD benefits were terminated. Following a hearing before the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission, the Commission found that Claimant had reached MMI as of the date on which she declined surgery, and Claimant's request for TTD benefits from that date forward were denied. Following a jury trial wherein a verdict was entered in Claimant's favor, granting TTD benefits from the date she declined surgery to present and continuing, the trial judge granted Employer/Insurer's Judgment N.O.V., finding instead that the evidence showed Claimant had reached MMI on a date certain and was thereafter not entitled to receipt of TTD benefits, thereby vacating portions of the jury's verdict.

On appeal, Claimant argued that TTD payments may continue even after an injured worker reaches MMI, so long as the worker remains wholly disabled. In response to Claimant's argument, the court noted the decision in Buckler v. Willett Construction, 345 Md. 350, 360 (1997)., wherein the Maryland Court of Appeals held that in order receive TTD benefits, the injured worker must be both in a "healing period" and be totally disabled, not one or the other. In rejecting Claimant's arguments and upholding the trial court's decision, the court went on to discuss several Maryland cases discussing this issue. In particular, the court noted language and the generally accepted notion that a claimant is not entitled to TTD benefits once the healing period ends, as any ongoing disability existing after expiration of the healing period would be considered permanent. It is at that point that the claimant is expected to apply for permanent disability benefits.

Phuonglan Ngo v. CVS, Inc., et al., No. 807, September Term, 2012 (Md. App. 2012)