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Workers compensation and SSDI benefits

Can I get SSDI if I get workers' compensation benefits?


Many workers suffer a debilitating illness or accident at work and are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. Workers injured at work should first attempt to get workers’ compensation because these benefits are easier to get, are allocated for partial injuries and can be awarded for disabilities which are not expected to last for at least 12 continuous months.

In addition, unlike other types of personal injury cases, workers compensation is awarded without proving that the employer was negligent or that their negligence caused or contributed to the work injuries.

What does the SSA say about workers’ compensation?


Although claimants cannot be performing substantial gainful activity and win SSDI, because a private disability payment is not considered “earned income” and is not generated through “work” it does not disqualify claimants from SSDI.

The SSA has stated on their website that if you are getting Social Security Disability Insurance that your SSDI benefit should not be affected by disability payments from private sources (private pension or insurance benefits).

How does workers compensation affect my SSDI payments?


Workers compensation, which is paid for a work injury is, however, not provided by a private source. It is paid from a state or federal workers’ compensation agency and is considered insurance provided to injured employees from the employer. It is considered a “public disability benefit,” and if you receive workers compensation it will affect your SSDI benefits.

Workers compensation is treated like other public benefits such as federal, state or local government benefits which may be paid for other medical conditions that are not work-related. According to the SSA, this can include “civil service disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability.”

There are certain types of public benefits that do not reduce your SSDI payments, however, including disability from the Veteran’s Administration, Supplemental Security Income (SSA) or other government or state benefits if the federal government already deducted Social Security taxes from the earnings.

How much can I receive in public disability benefits and SSDI?


If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and workers’ compensation the total amount of your benefits cannot be more than 80 percent of your average current earnings before you became disabled. The example below is provided on the SSA website at www.ssa.gov.

Example:

Before you became disabled, your average current earnings were $4,000 a month. You, your spouse and your two children would be eligible to receive a total of $2,200 a month in Social Security disability benefits. However, you also receive $2,000 a month from workers’ compensation. Because the total amount of benefits you would receive ($4,200) is more than 80 percent of your average current earnings ($3,200), your family’s Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1,000.

Hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer


We get several questions a week on our disability forum from claimants who are applying for SSDI and who are getting workers’ compensation. My advice to all claimants is to either talk to their human resources representative, talk to a disability lawyer or talk to a workers’ compensation attorney who is familiar with the laws of their state. This should be done prior to applying for SSDI.
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