When a U.S. worker is too injured or ill to perform his or her job, several different state and federal financial programs may apply to his or her situation. If the worker is eligible, workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and a variety of state disability programs can mean the difference between financial stability and dire financial need.
In many instances, the eligible worker can receive both workers’ comp and Social Security disability benefits. The major differences between SSDI and workers’ compensation programs are discussed below.
SSDI vs. Workers Comp Benefits
Workers comp benefits are extended to a worker is injured on the job. It’s offered as a way to avoid litigation between the employer and employee. Most employers must carry workers’ comp insurance to cover their employees.
Workers comp benefits pay for injuries the worker sustained at work or in the performance of duties, such as the development of carpal tunnel syndrome in a factory worker. A worker with this medical condition has pain and limited range of motion. He or she is unable to perform the requirements of the job.
SSDI, Workers Comp, and Disability
A worker with a permanent or temporary disability may receive workers compensation benefits when he or she experiences loss of wages. Each state provides legal guidelines about the appropriate payment amount. In most states, the workers’ comp payment is calculated as a certain percentage of the worker’s pre-injury weekly wage.
Temporary workers’ comp continues until the disabled individual’s physician says it’s safe to return to work. In contrast, permanent disability benefits continue for the injured or disabled worker’s lifetime. A permanent disability usually results in a settlement of the victim’s workers’ comp claim and the employer’s insurance company.
In some instances, the injured worker can receive workers’ compensation benefits and <b>Social Security disability benefits</b> at the same time. If the worker is disabled, paid Social Security taxes on earnings over a sufficient time period, and doctors say the disability will persist at least one year plus one day, or that the worker has an illness or condition that doctors believe will end in death, the worker may have the option of drawing both workers’ comp and SSDI simultaneously.
If the disabled worker is already drawing workers’ comp benefits, he or she isn’t prevented from applying for SSDI benefits. If Social Security approves the claimant’s application, the agency is likely to offset the workers’ comp or other public disability benefits at that time. If the worker receives benefits from a private disability insurance policy or from the Veterans Administration (VA), Social Security doesn’t offset these benefits.
SSDI Benefits and Reduction of Other Public Benefits
Social Security disability payments may be reduced by workers’ compensation benefits (or state disability benefits, if the worker’s state offers these), unless the disabled worker earns a greater than average wage.
According to SSA, workers’ compensation benefits plus public disability benefits, including Social Security disability benefits can’t exceed 80 percent of the disabled worker’s earnings before he or she became disabled. For instance, if the worker earned USD 2,000 per week before the injury occurred and now earn USD 1,000 per week in workers comp benefits, Social Security disability doesn’t exceed more than approximately USD 600 per week. The SSDI limit also applies to the beneficiary’s family benefits to dependents and spouses.
Understanding Workers Comp and SSDI Benefits
Sorting out financial matters can be quite challenging for the disabled worker. If he or she was the primary household breadwinner, it may be frustrating to compare benefits programs or prepare and present applications.
A disability lawyer can make an important difference to the disabled person’s quality of life. An experienced attorney knows how to get the compensation benefits for which the worker and his or her dependents are entitled. Most disability law firms offer a free consultation, so there’s nothing to lose. It’s important to ask a legal professional to evaluate the case and make decisions with legal guidance.