Can I get Social Security disability and workers’ compensation?
The short answer is yes, you can receive both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and workers’ compensation benefits when you qualify for both.
They’re not the same program. SSDI is a federal government program run by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Workers’ compensation programs are administered by the state of Georgia.
Currently, Georgia workers’ compensation benefits will provide you with rehabilitation support, medical benefits and supplemental income. You may be eligible for 2/3 of your weekly income up to $575 per week.
Let’s compare the programs together.
The difference between SSDI and workers’ compensation
The qualifications for long-term disability from SSDI are very different than the qualifications used to determine if you may collect workers’ compensation benefits. It is possible that you could qualify for one or both.
Workers’ compensation programs differ between the various states. If you have been injured on the job and think you might qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you should consult with an experienced attorney who is familiar with the workers’ compensation laws in Georgia.
In general, workers’ compensation is meant to be temporary, which allows employees who have sustained an injury at work to have continuing income as they recover or wait for their SSDI long-term disability benefits to begin.
Because the programs are separate, one will not qualify you for the other. At the same time, not qualifying for one will not negatively impact your application to the other.
Important factors to consider
If you collect workers’ compensation benefits, it will impact your SSDI payments. The total amount of income that you receive from SSDI and workers’ compensation cannot be greater than 80 percent of your prior income.
If the total amount of money you receive from both programs exceeds 80 percent of your previous income, then the SSA will deduct an amount from your SSDI to bring the total to below 80 percent. If your workers’ compensation benefits run out while you continue to collect SSDI, you simply need to notify the SSA. They should adjust the amount of the SSDI to account for that difference.
The federal government doesn’t want responsibility for costs that your workers’ compensation insurer should cover. In addition, the SSA can only provide benefits that fall within the legal limits. When you apply for long-term disability benefits, the SSA will ask you about all of your income and benefit sources that you receive.
Does a workers’ compensation settlement affect Social Security disability?
A workers’ compensation settlement may impact your long-term disability payments. For instance, say you receive $1,000 per month from SSDI. Then, you accept a workers’ compensation settlement of $10,000. The Social Security Administration may adjust your SSDI by that $10,000 amount. Therefore, you would not receive your $1,000 monthly payment from SSDI for 10 months.
However, an experienced attorney may be able to help minimize the impact of that adjustment by having SSA spread out the adjustment over a lifetime. You would still receive a monthly check with a small deduction towards reducing that adjustment.
Private disability insurance and pensions shouldn’t have an impact on your SSDI benefits. Even if your private disability payments push your total income higher than your income when you were employed, your long-term disability shouldn’t be affected. Still, you should consult with an attorney to discuss these provisions and whether any Social Security workers’ compensation offset is taxable.
It’s important to remember that the requirements to qualify for long-term disability through SSDI may be more stringent than the requirements to qualify for workers’ compensation. In general, you are considered disabled for workers’ compensation if you cannot perform the job you were doing prior to the injury.
However, SSA has a different definition of a disability. You must be considered totally disabled to qualify for SSDI. To meet this qualification, you will need to demonstrate that you cannot perform any work that you previously were capable of performing for an employer. You must also demonstrate that you cannot perform any meaningful work in any industry or field that you could reasonably be trained for. The disability must be expected to last longer than 12 months or be expected to result in your passing away.
Consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney
While you can collect SSDI and workers’ compensation concurrently, you may have some advantages to applying to one prior to the other. If you are planning to apply for both SSDI and workers’ compensation, it’s best that you consult with an attorney who is experienced with both programs.
In addition to protecting your rights, an attorney can advise you on how to apply for each benefit as well as how to structure your claim. He or she can also help with an appeal if necessary. You have a greater chance of acceptance with professional help throughout the process.