Workers’ compensation is there for you if you suffered an injury in an accident at work or developed a health condition due to your occupation. Social Security disability benefits paid by the Social Security Administration (SSA) provide financial assistance to anyone with disabilities who qualifies for the program, independent of their current work situation. To receive Social Security disability benefits, a claimant must have worked and paid taxes for a certain amount of time—in most cases, at least 10 years.
You can potentially collect workers’ compensation and disability benefits at the same time. However, you will have to qualify for both programs and there is a cap on the amount that you can receive if you collect benefits from both.
Social Security Disability vs. Workers’ Compensation
Social Security Disability
Disability differs from workers’ compensation in many ways. First, Social Security is a federal program. It also covers claimants for total disability only, unlike workers’ compensation where those injured at work can collect payments for partial or short-term disability.
There are strict rules for qualifying for Social Security disability. According to the SSA, you could receive benefits if:
- You are unable to do work that you did before
- You cannot adjust to other work based on your disability
- Your disability will last for at least one year or until death
The SSA uses a multi-step process to determine if you qualify for disability benefits. They will need to answer the following questions:
- Are you currently working?
If you are currently working, you may not be able to qualify for disability benefits.
- How severe is your condition or disability?
Your condition must impact your ability to work considerably, limiting your ability to do basic work tasks such as lifting, standing, or others.
- Is your disability or condition on the Social Security list of disabling conditions?
If your condition is on the list, you will generally be classified as disabled under the program. If not, the SSA will assess your condition to ascertain its severity compared to other conditions on the list.
- Are you able to do the work you did previously?
The SSA will assess whether you are able to work in your former capacity. If you can, you will not qualify for the program.
- Are you able to work in another job?
If you can do other types of work, you will not qualify for disability benefits. However, if you cannot work at all, you most likely would receive benefits if you qualify under all the other points.
The benefits you can receive if you qualify for disability will depend on your earnings. Your disability benefits may be reduced if you are receiving benefits from another program, such as workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation is a state-run program. Compared to disability, workers’ compensation is fairly straightforward. You can receive various benefits if you get hurt at work or suffer from a work-related illness. You simply have to prove that your injury happened at work. Workers’ compensation should compensate you for any medical costs and lost income due to an injury. You may also qualify for job training or retraining benefits under the workers’ compensation program if you are unable to return to your previous job.
One big difference between workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits is that you will not receive any medical expenses under the disability program. However, after a qualifying period, you can apply for Medicare. Workers’ compensation benefits include all your medical expenses for treatments of your work-acquired condition or disability.
If you are still able to work in any capacity, it is unlikely that you would qualify for disability. However, under the workers’ compensation program you could receive benefits for partial disability.
Your Next Best Steps
If you are trying to figure out if you can collect workers’ compensation and disability at the same time, your best option may be to apply for both programs. Be aware that if you qualify for both programs, your total combined income from both programs cannot be more than 80 percent of your previous wage.
Applying for both programs at the same time can be a confusing and frustrating process. A workers’ compensation lawyer can discuss your options with you to ensure that you are getting all the benefits you deserve. A lawyer can also help preserve your legal rights and initiate any necessary appeals.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Today
Knowing which program to apply for and how to maximize your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve can be challenging. However, you do not have to struggle with this process on your own.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can assess your case and advise you accordingly. It is usually in your best interest to act promptly—it may take some time after an application before you can receive benefits, particularly when it comes to disability payments.
To get started, contact Pintas & Mullins today at (800) 529-9122 for a free consultation.