Declaration of seafarer's disability

In Vergara v. Hammonia Maritime Services, Inc.,[1] the Supreme Court held that the company-designated physician is given a leeway of an additional 120 days, or a total of 240 days from repatriation, to give the seafarer further treatment and, thereafter, make a declaration as to the nature of the latter’s disability. Thus, it is only upon the lapse of 240 days, or when so declared by the company-designated physician, that a seafarer may be deemed totally and permanently disabled, viz.:
As these provisions operate, the seafarer, upon sign-off from his vessel, must report to the company-designated physician within three (3) days from arrival for diagnosis and treatment. For the duration of the treatment but in no case to exceed 120 days, the seaman is on temporary total disability as he is totally unable to work. He receives his basic wage during this period until he is declared fit to work or his temporary disability is acknowledged by the company to be permanent, either partially or totally, as his condition is defined under the POEA Standard Employment Contract [(SEC)] and by applicable Philippine laws. If the 120 days initial period is exceeded and no such declaration is made because the seafarer requires further medical attention, then the temporary total disability period may be extended up to a maximum of 240 days, subject to the right of the employer to declare within this period that a permanent partial or total disability already exists. The seaman may of course also be declared fit to work at any time such declaration is justified by his medical condition.

x x x x

As we [Supreme Court] outlined above, a temporary total disability only becomes permanent when so declared by the company physician within the periods he is allowed to do so, or upon the expiration of the maximum 240-day medical treatment period without a declaration of either fitness to work or the existence of a permanent disability. [2] (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
[1] 588 Phil. 895 (2008). 
[2] Id. at 912-913; citations omitted.