Whether you become injured on the job or are living with a chronic condition, if you’re in pain, it could be impossible to work and earn a paycheck. Fortunately, there are state and federal programs that exist to alleviate the financial burden of recovery following injury or illness. Individuals who are hurt in a work-related accident may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, while Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are for people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.
If you’ve been injured at work and are curious about the programs available to you, continue reading for an overview of things you need to know about collecting workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits.
Eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits
If you were hurt on the job, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits that will pay for a portion of your missed income while you’re unable to work, medical expenses related to your injury, and any permanent impairment. To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, the following three criteria must be met:
- Your employer must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance or be legally required to do so.
- You must be an employee of the company. Consultants and independent contractors are not considered employees.
- Your injury or illness must have occurred in the course of employment and be related to your job duties.
Workers’ compensation benefits are calculated based on your average weekly wage before you were injured and the severity of your injury. Workers’ compensation is intended to be temporary and provide financial relief to injured workers while they wait for acceptance for Social Security disability benefits.
Eligibility for Social Security disability benefits
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program run by the Social Security Administration. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have previously worked in jobs covered by Social Security. A person must also have a medical condition included in the Social Security Administration’s impairment listing manual (also called the blue book). The listing manual includes conditions such as musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory illnesses, mental disorders, digestive tract problems, immune system disorders, and cancer.
A person’s condition doesn’t have to match the blue book exactly if it is medically equivalent to the criteria in a related listing. Social Security pays benefits to people who are totally disabled, unable to perform any work for any previous employers, and unable to work in any field they could reasonably be trained for. Furthermore, the disabling condition must be expected to last a year or longer.
Can I collect workers’ comp and SSDI benefits at the same time?
Some workers may be eligible to collect workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits at the same time, but not the full amount. If you qualify for both programs, your SSDI benefits will be reduced so that the total income you receive from workers’ compensation and Social Security is no more than 80 percent of your previous income. If you receive temporary disability benefits from workers’ compensation and they run out while you’re collecting SSDI benefits, you can notify the Social Security Administration and they will raise your SSDI benefits accordingly.
Do you qualify for workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits?
The requirements for qualifying for workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits are considerably different. If you are eligible for both, a workers’ compensation attorney can advise you on when you should apply for each program and help you submit your claims in a way that will grant you maximum benefits. At the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates, we have more than four decades of experience helping injured California employees evaluate their options for collecting workers’ comp and SSDI benefits. You deserve fair and full compensation for your injuries, and we can help. Give us a call to schedule your free consultation at (619) 528-9800.