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Work injuries - Is SSDI or Workers' Compensation better?

SSDI and Workers' Compensation for a Work Injury?

It is not unusual for a worker to suffer work injuries while in the course of their employment. Workers who are injured while performing their normal job functions may wonder if it is better to seek compensation through workers compensation from their employer for their work injuries or through the SSA for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).  While both benefits may eventually be an option for work injuries, this blog will address why it is important to first seek compensation for your loss through workers compensation.

Why is workers compensation better than SSDI for work injuries?

Workers’ Compensation developed first in Europe in the 1800s, but by the early 1900s had spread to the United States, evolving from the industrial revolution. Although the states adopted workers compensation at different times, by 1920 there were 42 states which adopted similar statutes. In 1948, Mississippi was the final state to implement workers compensation laws.

Unlike SSDI benefits, workers compensation is guaranteed for most work injuries (if offered by the employer), is offered on a part-time basis and is paid for partial disabilities. If you have been injured on the job and you apply for workers compensation you will be paid immediately. Applying and receiving SSDI benefits could take months or even years and is not guaranteed. SSDI is also not given if you have not worked and paid enough into the SSA system; workers compensation does not have similar restrictions.

What type of benefits will l get through workers compensation?

Work comp benefits provided by employers, at no cost to the injured employee, may include necessary medical treatment and wage replacements benefits for work injuries. Death benefits can also be provided to the family of the deceased to pay for lost wages and burial costs.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and is it provided for work injuries?

SSDI is given to disabled workers who have a severe mental or physical health condition and are unable to work or perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) for at least 12 continuous months. The SSA considers substantial activity as making more than $1,040 per month (in 2013).

Workers are also not given SSDI for short-term conditions or for conditions which are not considered severe. Workers must also have enough work credits to receive SSDI benefits.

SSDI if I have a work injury?

If you are injured at work there may be a time when it is beneficial to apply for SSDI benefits. For instance, if you have a work injury which is permanent and does not allow you to continue to work you can apply for SSDI.

Can I get both SSDI and Workers Compensation benefits?

Yes, according to the Social Security Administration Publication 10018 you may be able to receive both SSDI and workers’ compensation. Keep in mind, however, the amount you are paid will not be “more than 80% of your average current earnings before you became disabled.”

For example, if you made $4,000 per month prior to your work injury. The SSA will not allow you to make more than 80% or $3,200 per month after your SSDI benefit and your workers compensation payments are combined.
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