Exploring Social Security Cases and Outcomes

Getting All the Help You Need: Workers' Comp & SSDI

by Marie Caldwell

If you've been injured on the job, you likely already understand that workers' comp will pay you some valuable benefits to assist you while you get better. Unfortunately, some work-related injuries never heal completely, leaving you with a permanent injury. When you are too hurt to work again, you need help and your workers' comp can provide that, but many people don't realize that another form of financial support is also available.

Read on to learn more about collecting both workers' comp and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the same time.

Knowing the differences between these two types of benefits.

While you are covered by workers' comp from your very first hour of work, SSDI has a few more requirements, including a 5 month waiting period and a long application and approval process. On the other hand, SSDI covers all sorts of illnesses and medical conditions, whether caused by work or not. SSDI is federally run, but workers' comp is state run, which means the exact benefits and rules can vary from state to state.

Qualifying for both programs.

To be able to get both types of benefits, you must:

  1. Be injured on the job or have a work-related injury or illness.
  2. Have a permanent disability, as designated by your workers' comp carrier.
  3. Be unable to work at your job for at least a year.
  4. Have worked enough in the past and paid enough into the SSDI system to qualify for benefits.

Understanding offsets

While theoretically you can qualify and earn benefits from both programs at the same time, the Social Security Administration (SSA) places limits on the total amount you can earn in a given month. The calculations to determine this benefit reduction, known as an offset, is somewhat complicated, but in general you can only earn 80% of your previous job's salary.

You will receive your entire workers' comp payment, but you can only earn a SSDI payment if the total amount equals less than 80% of the previous salary. There are some expenses than can be used to reduce the income from your workers' comp for computational purposes, however.

Retirement earnings

If you qualify for both programs, this offset will continue until you reach full retirement age. At that time you can earn the full amount of both benefits with no reduction. To learn more, click to read about your options.

Structuring your benefits

You should know that the manner your workers' comp benefits are paid can affect your ability to earn a SSDI payment, so be sure to get the help of a workers' comp attorney when it comes time to negotiate your settlement.