If you are injured at work, you are most likely entitled to workers' compensation. You may also be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. But do you know how you qualify for each program and how they interact with each other? Let's take a look at the two types of benefits and shed some light.
How They Are Different
Workers' compensation insurance is a state-level program where employers pay a premium for insurance coverage to cover an employee suffering a work-related injury. Under workers' compensation laws, an employee can earn ongoing benefits for their disability, but they cannot sue the employer for more money. An employee is eligible for workers' compensation as soon as they start working.
Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI) is a federal program under the Social Security Administration (SSA). If a worker is injured and unable to perform gainful work, they can receive payments if they are eligible. To become eligible, they must spend a certain amount of time in the workforce.
Additionally, workers' compensation is available to individuals with both short- and long-term disabilities, and those disabilities can be partial or total. SSDI, on the other hand, only covers total, long-term disability. That is, your injury must be severe - one on a list of accepted disabilities, or an equivalent condition - and it must go on for at least a year.
How They Work Together
If you qualify for both workers' compensation and SSDI, you can receive payments from both programs. However, your combined income from both sources cannot be more than 80% of your income before you were disabled. If you earn more than this amount, the SSA will reduce your Social Security benefits by the extra amount.
Just as an example, let's say you earned $3500 per month before your injury. You qualify for workers' compensation and receive $2,300 per month. You also qualify for SSDI at $1,500 per month. Together, the two benefits would total $4000, which is greater than 80% of your previous income, or $2,800 per month. SSA would reduce your SSDI benefits to just $500 per month to make up the difference.
If you are unsure if you qualify for workers' compensation or SSDI, or if you don't know how one may affect the other in your situation, you should talk to a lawyer that specializes in these types of injury cases. Dugan & Associates has over 50 years of combined experience handling workers' compensation and Social Security Disability claims. If you believe you have a case and have questions about moving forward, contact us for a free consultation.