Injured on the job, what are my options?
If you have been injured on your job performing your normal work requirements you may no longer be able to work and you may need medical assistance as well as wage replacement. Many disabled workers ask if they should apply for workers compensation or if they should go ahead and file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Benefits of Workers Compensation
Workers compensation has been established in all states to provide injured workers who are injured on the job lost wage compensation, death benefits to surviving beneficiaries and medical benefits.
Workers compensation is provided to the employee at no cost to the worker. It provides short term and partial disability payments while the worker recovers and rehabilitates and attempts to return to full-time work. Another benefit of workers compensation is it generally provides vocational rehabilitation benefits such as training, job evaluation, job modifications and educational assistance to either return the worker to their job with needed modifications or help them find new employment.
Unlike other personal injury cases, workers’ compensation does not require the worker to prove their employer was negligent, only that they were injured in the “normal course of employment.” This eliminates lengthy and costly court battles for both the employer and the injured employee.
Some injuries are not covered in some states. For instance, workers who intentionally injure themselves or who are injured while traveling to work may not qualify for workers’ compensation. Common work injuries which are generally covered can include bone fractures, back and neck injuries, hernias, abrasions, burns, concussions, amputations, COPD, asbestos exposure and bulging discs.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is offered to workers who have a severe, disabling injury or condition which does not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months. It is provided only to workers who have worked and paid employment taxes into the SSA system and who have sufficient work credits to be considered insured.
Not all workers will qualify for SSDI benefits. If you have been injured on the job and your condition is expected to last 12 continuous months and you are 100% injured you may apply for SSDI benefits, but before you do, you need to discuss your options with a disability lawyer, your human resources department or a workers’ compensation lawyer who is familiar with work comp laws in your state.
Can I apply for both Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance?
Claimants who have been injured at work and who have a severe condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months can file both an SSDI claim and a workers’ compensation claim, but as mentioned above, you need to talk to a lawyer. Although SSDI and workers’ compensation are two separate programs which are administered by different groups if you are getting both benefits the SSA may offset your disability payment. For example, SSDI and workers’ compensation will be limited to 80% of the income you earned before you became disabled.
As mentioned above, the benefits of workers compensation is that you may be able to get short-term and partial disability benefits, two benefits which are not offered by the SSDI program. Additionally, the wait time for a disability decision for SSDI can be up to 2 years for some SSDI applicants.
- SSA – Who can get disability benefits without a disability lawyer? (disabilitybenefitshome.com)