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Workers compensation. Do I also apply for SSDI?

If you have a been injured while performing your normal job functions or if you have a condition which is exacerbated by your job you might wonder if you should apply for workers compensation or if you should apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Recently on our disability forum we had a worker ask, “If I have been working and my back condition becomes worse performing my job what do I do?”

Workers compensation and on the job injuries

Workers’ compensation insurance is one of the oldest social insurance programs and allows workers the opportunity to seek justice through an injury claim when their economic livelihood is damaged or ruined by a job injury or illness. If you have been injured on the job you may be able to get workers’ compensation insurance through your employer without having to prove your employer’s negligence led to your disability or injury.

The benefit of workers’ compensation is that it provides immediate relief through medical care and lost wage compensation, without the hassle of filing an injury claim. Coverage, however, is not universal, and many workers may not be protected by workers compensation because they are considered “independent contractors.” Some states, such as Texas, also allow employers to “non-subscribe,” forcing some workers to sue their employer to recover damages from injury.

So if you are injured on the job performing your normal job duties and you are no longer able to work you should immediately talk to your employer about workers compensation. The benefit of workers compensation is that you can get benefits for temporary and partial disability benefits and your injury will not have to last 12 continuous months to qualify.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and work injuries

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) differs from workers’ compensation. It is provided to workers who are injured or disabled with a severe health condition which is expected to last at least 12 continuous months and does not allow them to work. Workers must also be “insured” for SSDI benefits which means they have worked and paid employment taxes.

SSDI differs from workers compensation. SSDI is not offered for partial disabilities or short-term disabilities. To win SSDI your condition will have to render you 100% disabled, and you will have to be out of work for 12 continuous months. SSDI can also be very difficult to get, and many applicants wait up to 2 years to receive benefits (if they have to file multiple claims or if they are denied multiple times).

Bottom Line

If you have been injured at work workers’ compensation should be your first avenue to pursue compensation. If you have exhausted your workers’ compensation benefits and you still cannot work you can apply for SSDI.

Can you get SSDI and workers compensation at the same time? Yes, but because state laws vary it’s important to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer about your state’s laws before you apply for SSDI benefits. SSDI can offset your workers’ compensation benefits in many states.


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