Whether you dislocate your shoulder on the job or break your ankle walking the dog, an injury can knock you off your feet. If the damage is severe, you may need to take time off work to recover. Without a regular paycheck coming in, it can be nearly impossible to keep up with medical bills, let alone your everyday expenses. Depending on the nature of your injury there are a couple of benefits you may qualify for that can alleviate the financial burden of recovery. However, you may not be able to collect them at the same time.
Workers’ Comp vs. Disability Benefits
Workers’ compensation provides benefits to employees who suffer an injury or illness on the job. An injured employee can file for workers’ comp benefits to help cover medical expenses, loss of income, vocational retraining, and other financial hardships that arise out of his or her injury. This may be due to a single accident or repeated actions that result in an accumulative injury.
California state disability insurance (SDI) provides benefits to workers that suffer an injury or illness that is not caused by or related to work. An employee who gets hurt off the job can file for weekly SDI benefits to make up for lost wages while he or she is unable to work. SDI benefits are paid for up to 52 weeks or the amount of wages in your base period, whichever is less.
Can I collect workers’ comp and disability (SDI) benefits?
If you are injured at work and file for workers’ compensation benefits, you generally cannot collect SDI benefits for the same period of time. There are exceptions, though. For example, you may receive SDI benefits if your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier denies or delays payment. Another situation would be if your workers’ comp weekly benefit is less than your SDI weekly benefit. In this case, you may be eligible to receive the difference between the two rates.
Additionally, if your workers’ compensation benefits are about to run out and you still can’t go back to work, you can file for SDI benefits to receive another full year of wage replacement, if you’re eligible.
Am I eligible for SDI benefits?
If your injury is not related to work, or if your workers’ comp benefits are about to run out, you can file for SDI benefits to cover your expenses for up to 52 weeks. According to the State of California Employment Development Department, you must meet the following requirements to be eligible for SDI benefits:
- Be unable to work for eight consecutive days
- Be employed or actively looking for work at the time of disability
- Have lost income because of your disability
- Earned a minimum of $300 from which SDI deductions were withheld during a previous period
- Be under the care of a physician during the first eight days of disability
- Submit claim form (DE 2501) no earlier than nine and no later than 49 days after your disability begins
- Have your physician complete the medical certification of your disability
When you apply for SDI benefits, you may be required to undergo an independent medical examination to determine your initial or continuing eligibility.
Are you eligible for workers’ comp or disability benefits?
Suffering a serious injury or illness can be a traumatizing experience. However, it’s reassuring to know that California protects employees from the financial consequences of recovery with workers’ compensation and state disability insurance benefits. While you generally can’t collect both benefits at the same time, limited situations may permit “double dipping.” The best way to find out if you’re eligible is to schedule an appointment with the best workers’ comp attorney in San Diego.
Call the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates for a free case evaluation at (619) 528-9800.