3) PERMANENT IMPAIRMENT BENEFITS.--
(a) Once the employee has reached the date of maximum medical improvement, impairment benefits are due and payable within 14 days after the carrier has knowledge of the impairment.
(b) The three-member panel, in cooperation with the department, shall establish and use a uniform permanent impairment rating schedule. This schedule must be based on medically or scientifically demonstrable findings as well as the systems and criteria set forth in the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment; the Snellen Charts, published by the American Medical Association Committee for Eye Injuries; and the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Disability Schedules. The schedule must be based upon objective findings. The schedule shall be more comprehensive than the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment and shall expand the areas already addressed and address additional areas not currently contained in the guides. On August 1, 1979, and pending the adoption, by rule, of a permanent schedule, Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, copyright 1977, 1971, 1988, by the American Medical Association, shall be the temporary schedule and shall be used for the purposes hereof. For injuries after July 1, 1990, pending the adoption by rule of a uniform disability rating agency schedule, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Disability Schedule shall be used unless that schedule does not address an injury. In such case, the Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment by the American Medical Association shall be used. Determination of permanent impairment under this schedule must be made by a physician licensed under chapter 458, a doctor of osteopathic medicine licensed under chapters 458 and 459, a chiropractic physician licensed under chapter 460, a podiatric physician licensed under chapter 461, an optometrist licensed under chapter 463, or a dentist licensed under chapter 466, as appropriate considering the nature of the injury. No other persons are authorized to render opinions regarding the existence of or the extent of permanent impairment.
(c) All impairment income benefits shall be based on an impairment rating using the impairment schedule referred to in paragraph (b). Impairment income benefits are paid biweekly at the rate of 75 percent of the employee's average weekly temporary total disability benefit not to exceed the maximum weekly benefit under s. 440.12; provided, however, that such benefits shall be reduced by 50 percent for each week in which the employee has earned income equal to or in excess of the employee's average weekly wage. An employee's entitlement to impairment income benefits begins the day after the employee reaches maximum medical improvement or the expiration of temporary benefits, whichever occurs earlier, and continues until the earlier of:
1. The expiration of a period computed at the rate of 3 weeks for each percentage point of impairment; or
2. The death of the employee.
Impairment income benefits as defined by this subsection are payable only for impairment ratings for physical impairments. If objective medical findings can substantiate a permanent psychiatric impairment resulting from the accident, permanent impairment benefits are limited for the permanent psychiatric impairment to 1-percent permanent impairment.
(d) After the employee has been certified by a doctor as having reached maximum medical improvement or 6 weeks before the expiration of temporary benefits, whichever occurs earlier, the certifying doctor shall evaluate the condition of the employee and assign an impairment rating, using the impairment schedule referred to in paragraph (b). If the certification and evaluation are performed by a doctor other than the employee's treating doctor, the certification and evaluation must be submitted to the treating doctor, the employee, and the carrier within 10 days after the evaluation. The treating doctor must indicate to the carrier agreement or disagreement with the other doctor's certification and evaluation.
1. The certifying doctor shall issue a written report to the employee and the carrier certifying that maximum medical improvement has been reached, stating the impairment rating to the body as a whole, and providing any other information required by the department by rule. The carrier shall establish an overall maximum medical improvement date and permanent impairment rating, based upon all such reports.
2. Within 14 days after the carrier's knowledge of each maximum medical improvement date and impairment rating to the body as a whole upon which the carrier is paying benefits, the carrier shall report such maximum medical improvement date and, when determined, the overall maximum medical improvement date and associated impairment rating to the department in a format as set forth in department rule. If the employee has not been certified as having reached maximum medical improvement before the expiration of 98 weeks after the date temporary disability benefits begin to accrue, the carrier shall notify the treating doctor of the requirements of this section.
(e) The carrier shall pay the employee impairment income benefits for a period based on the impairment rating.
(f) The department may by rule specify forms and procedures governing the method of payment of benefits under this section.
(g) Notwithstanding paragraph (c), for accidents occurring on or after October 1, 2003, an employee's entitlement to impairment income benefits begins the day after the employee reaches maximum medical improvement or the expiration of temporary benefits, whichever occurs earlier, and continues for the following periods:
1. Two weeks of benefits are to be paid to the employee for each percentage point of impairment from 1 percent up to and including 10 percent.
2. For each percentage point of impairment from 11 percent up to and including 15 percent, 3 weeks of benefits are to be paid.
3. For each percentage point of impairment from 16 percent up to and including 20 percent, 4 weeks of benefits are to be paid.
4. For each percentage point of impairment from 21 percent and higher, 6 weeks of benefits are to be paid.