There are a number of programs designed to assist workers who have been injured or are suffering from an occupational illness or condition that is temporarily or permanently preventing them from working. Workers’ compensation benefits are available for anyone injured on the job who is unable to work temporarily, who suffers a permanent disability or who suffers a fatal accident or illness. But workers who suffer serious disabling injuries can receive compensation from both workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability, or SSDI.
Those who find that an accident or cumulative type injury or illness developed in the course and scope of their job has now disabled them are eligible for other programs. If you purchased private disability insurance, you can collect benefits based on the policy provisions.
Veterans Assistance is provided to disabled workers who incurred a service-related disability but who can also receive retirement benefits if they served in the armed services for a period of time. Workers’ compensation, however, is the main insurer for those who have been injured in the course and scope of their employment. It is a state administered, no-fault insurance plan available to nearly all workers that pays for an injured worker’s medical bills and compensates them for lost earnings up to a certain percentage. Injured workers can also receive benefits for rehabilitation and other expenses. Payments are made weekly or in a lump sum.
Social Security Disability is a federal program that compensates those who are unable to return to work at all. The difference in qualifying for these programs is that you need only be unable to perform the job you are presently engaged in to receive workers’ compensation benefits, while you must be unable to perform any other type of productive employment to be eligible for SSDI.
As stated, to qualify for SSDI, you must be unable to substantially engage in your previous job or in any other type of gainful work because of a qualifying medical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last for at least one year, or is fatal. Payments begin after a five-month waiting period, with some exceptions.
If you are a worker with a history of employment who is now totally disabled, you may be eligible to collect both workers’ compensation and SSDI; however, there are some aspects to the combination of which eligible workers should be aware. For instance, the benefits you receive from SSDI can be offset if you are receiving workers’ compensation along with other public benefits so long as Social Security taxes are not deducted from them.
As of early 2016, you may only receive 80% of the average amount of wages you were earning before the accident or illness that disabled you if you are receiving both workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability. However, any private disability insurance you receive may not decrease the amount of any combination of workers’ compensation and SSDI that you are receiving.
There are certain other nuances to be aware of before you apply for either or both workers’ compensation and SSDI if you are simultaneously eligible. One thing to consider is whether applying to one program before the other is an advantage. Contact an experienced SSDI or workers’ compensation attorney to discuss this issue. Also, because SSDI claims are routinely rejected upon first application, having a skilled and resourceful attorney advising you on how to proceed can be instrumental in whether and when you can receive your benefits.