The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (Guides) is a well-known standard for quantifying the medical loss associated with an injury or illness. The Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board has adopted the most recent, the Sixth Edition of the American Medical Association (AMA) Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment as the basis for rating permanent partial impairment under the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Act. The rating of impairment can be found under Alaska Admin. Code tit. 8 § 23.30.190(d), 45.122(b).
The Sixth Edition introduces a new approach for evaluating the impairment. An innovative methodology is used to improve the relevance of impairment ratings, strengthen the internal consistency, promote greater precision, and simplify the evaluation process. The approach is based on an adaptation of the conceptual framework of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health, although many of the fundamental principles underlying the Guides remain unchanged.
Under the AMA Guides, the degree of impairment caused by an individual’s injury is rated as a percent of the whole person. According to the Alaska law the value of the whole person is set at $177,000. The insurer therefore figures the permanent impairment benefits by multiplying the percent of the whole person impairment assessed under the Guides by $177,000. The result is then paid in a lump sum unless the individual is in the reemployment process.