It’s common knowledge that workers’ compensation insurance covers a multitude of work-related conditions. However, you’re often limited to claiming workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. This prevents you from claiming private short or long-term disability benefits or suing your employer for negligence after a disabling on-the-job injury. Because of these limitations, injured employees may wrongfully believe they can’t claim federal social security disability benefits after a work-related accident. However, you can claim both SSDI and workers’ compensation benefits with the help of an experienced social security disability attorney.
Understanding SSDI Benefits
Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) is a federal insurance program offered to qualifying workers. You must meet the following criteria to qualify for SSDI benefits:
- You’ve worked at a qualifying SSDI job,
- You’ve paid enough into SSDI over the 10 years prior to the alleged date of your disability, and
- You have a qualifying disability.
Qualifying disabilities are those expected to last more than a year or considered terminal. The disability must also prevent you from engaging in all meaningful work. Common examples of qualifying disabilities are:
- Certain types of cancer,
- Certain traumatic brain injuries, and
- Certain autoimmune disorders.
Just because a disabling injury or illness isn’t “serious” by medical standards doesn’t mean you won’t qualify for benefits. The measure is whether the injury or illness prevents you from engaging in meaningful work. If it does, you may be entitled to monthly payments to replace a portion of your lost income.
An Overview of Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance differs from SSDI because it provides benefits only if you’re injured “on the job.” The injury doesn’t have to result in a long-term disability. It only needs to prevent you from performing your essential job functions. Unlike SSDI, workers’ compensation insurance pays both your medical bills and replaces a portion of your lost wages. You’ll generally receive 50-70% of your lost income, but the payment is tax-free. Accordingly, many workers’ compensation claimants are receiving a full wage. This may prevent you from receiving full social security disability benefits.
Claiming Both Workers’ Compensation and SSDI Benefits
It is possible to claim both SSDI and Workers’ Compensation benefits. One doesn’t exclude the other, but you can’t reap a windfall for your disability. You’re limited to claiming 80% of your lost income from a combination of SSDI and workers’ compensation payments. For example, if your pre-disability income was $5,000 per month, you’re capped at receiving $4,000 per month in benefits from these combined sources. If your workers’ compensation insurance pays you $3,000 per month and you’re entitled to $1,500 in SSDI benefits, SSDI will reduce your benefits by $500.
However, an experienced social security disability attorney from the Kenneth G. Marks Law Firm may help you claim additional lost income. Your employer pays for your workers’ compensation insurance, so it only covers the salary for the covered job. Any claimed income from a weekend hobby or earned as an independent contractor isn’t covered by your workers’ compensation insurance. This means you may have a total monthly income of $7,000, which may allow you to claim your full SSDI benefits in the example above.
Common Work-Related Injuries Eligible for SSDI Benefits
Each profession has occupational risks. Construction workers may suffer from crushing or traumatic brain injuries, but they can also develop asbestos-related conditions. Computer programmers often suffer from neck and back injuries, or carpal tunnel syndrome developed on-the-job. Further, anyone who travels for his or her job can be injured in a car accident. The following injuries may result in serious, permanent disabilities qualifying you for both SSDI and workers’ compensation benefits:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries –A traumatic brain injury can result in anything from a mild concussion to a serious coma. You may lose your ability to remember, perform fine motor skills, or speak. Sometimes traumatic brain injuries result in personality changes or an inability to concentrate and think critically. Whether you slipped in the breakroom or were hit by debris on a job site, you may qualify for both SSDI and workers’ compensation benefits after a head injury.
- Car Accident Injuries: This is one of the most common causes of disabling injuries in the United States. You may be temporarily disabled from work due to a knee injury or permanently disabled after a spinal fracture.
- Paralysis: Damage to your spinal cord, which sends brain signals to the rest of your body, causes paralysis. This means you’ve lost control and/or strength in a certain area of your body below the injury. Car accidents are a common cause of paralysis. Paralysis is almost always a permanent disability that qualifies you for both workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits.
- Back and Neck Injuries: These are the most common disabling conditions in the world. Neck and back injuries often worsen with age, especially in the tech industry. However, they seldom prevent you from engaging in all forms of employment. You may be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits for a neck injury, but it’s difficult to claim SSDI.
Any injury suffered on-the-job, or a work-related illness may qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits. You don’t need to be permanently disabled or have a long-term disability to claim workers’ comp. However, serious injuries may entitle you to SSDI benefits as well. You’ve paid for SSDI benefits over your work-life, so take advantage of the financial stability they can offer your family.
Take Advantage of your Free SSDI Consultation
Whether you’re applying for workers’ compensation benefits or are already receiving them, you’re not automatically disqualified from receiving SSDI. It may be more difficult to claim SSDI benefits, but they can also help cover income you’re not receiving from your workers’ comp carrier. Always have your disability case analyzed by an SSDI attorney at the Kenneth G. Marks Law Firm. You may be surprised. To schedule your free SSDI consultation, call us today at (949) 288-4863 or contact us online.