When you’re hurt on the job, your first priority should be getting the medical care you need to begin the road to recovery. Once the dust settles, there are some important financial decisions to make that will determine how you’ll continue to earn income while you’re off your feet. You might have been told that you can file for workers’ compensation benefits following a work-related injury. Perhaps you’ve also heard that disability benefits can offer some financial relief. What’s the difference between these two programs? Can you receive both workers’ compensation benefits and disability benefits at the same time? Understanding your rights after an injury will help you get the maximum compensation you’re entitled to.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits vs. Disability Benefits
There are a few key differences between workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Workers’ compensation benefits are available to eligible employees who are injured in a work-related accident. They include payment for medical expenses, a portion of a workers’ lost income, and retraining for a new job if the injured employee is unable to return to work.
All employers in California are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. As an employee, you are not required to pay into workers’ compensation in order to collect benefits if you get hurt. When you file a claim, your employer’s insurance company pays for your medical bills and sends you temporary disability payments equal to roughly two-thirds of your income. Unlike seeking medical care with health insurance, there are no co-pays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket medical expenses with workers’ compensation benefits.In contrast, you do not have to be injured at work to file for SSDI benefits. Though, no matter how it happened, your injury must impede your ability to work and earn a living in order to qualify.
Another main difference between workers’ comp and SSDI is that you must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. If you pay into Social Security, your paycheck stub will indicate this.
While injured employees can collect workers’ comp benefits short-term or long-term, disability benefits are generally paid to people who are unable to work for a year or more due to an injury that causes a disability.
Can I earn workers’ comp and disability benefits at the same time?
There are some situations where an employee who is injured at work can collect workers’ comp and disability benefits simultaneously. However, there are limitations to how much you can get. If you receive workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits, the total amount of these benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings before you became disabled. If all of your benefits equal more than 80 percent of your average current earnings, your SSDI benefits will be reduced to bring your total benefits under 80 percent. This is referred to as an offset.
If your workers' compensation benefits run out while you are still collecting SSDI, you can notify the Social Security Administration and they will increase your disability benefits accordingly.
What pays more: workers’ comp or disability?
We’re often asked whether workers’ compensation or disability pays more following an injury. In most cases, if you’re injured on the job, workers’ compensation will offer greater financial benefits. You do not have to pay taxes on workers’ compensation benefits, while you do have to pay taxes on disability benefits. Additionally, if your doctor says you can return to your job doing modified work at a lower pay rate, you can continue to earn partial workers’ compensation benefits. Disability benefits are only available to people who are totally disabled and unable to work at all.
This being said, applying for one program does not hurt your chances of qualifying for another. A workers’ comp attorney can review your case and evaluate all of the benefits available to you.
Were you recently hurt on the job? Contact a San Diego workers’ comp attorney
When you’re dealing with the aftermath of an injury, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to apply for the right benefits at the right time. Employees who are injured at work have the advantage of being able to apply for both workers’ compensation benefits and disability benefits to help alleviate the financial burden of recovery. A workers’ comp attorney can guide you through the complicated legal system, help you file the proper forms on time, and draft a settlement agreement that minimizes any offset of disability benefits.
At the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates, we’re dedicated to maximizing our clients’ compensation so they can make a full financial and physical recovery. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (619) 528-9800.