Find out if an injured employee can receive both workers’ comp and SSDI
If you are pursuing an Arizona workers’ compensation claim, you might be wondering if it is possible to receive workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits at the same time. When you have been injured at work, it is natural to have concerns about what options are available.
Although it is possible to receive benefits under both programs, doing so is relatively rare. Applicants for either or both programs are likely to face a denial the first time they apply. Even though a denial is discouraging, understanding that it’s likely will help prepare you for what might come.
Legal representation can help you from our team at the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski will help in either scenario.
About Arizona workers’ compensation benefits
Under Arizona state law, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which is a no-fault program. This means you can be eligible for benefits regardless of who or what caused your injury, even if you are partly responsible for your own injury.
To collect workers’ compensation benefits, you need to prove that your injury was related to your job and you are unable to perform your job duties because of it. The insurance company your employer uses will pay all the expenses related to your injury if you are approved.
Other benefits you may receive include lost income benefits equivalent to two-thirds of your earned wages. The benefits are temporary and are intended to stop when your condition has improved so you can go back to work.
Workers’ compensation is different from disability benefits from Social Security. Approval for one benefit does not ensure approval for the other.
About Social Security benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) can pay benefits to those unable to perform “gainful employment” under SSA guidelines. If you have a condition expected to last at least 1 year or result in your death, you might be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or possibly both.
SSDI is based on work credits from the payroll taxes that you pay when you are working. You must have earned a minimum number of credits, be unable to perform tasks that you did in previous jobs or have training or qualifications for, and be expected to have your disability for 1 year or more or pass away from the condition.
SSI is for people who are disabled and have limited income or assets. It’s designed to provide for your essential needs.
How workers’ comp impacts Social Security benefits
If you should be approved for workers’ compensation and SSDI, the total amount received from both programs may not exceed your average combined income. The SSA considers these circumstances “double recovery” and can reduce your SSDI amount until the total falls below the threshold.
Double recovery only affects SSDI benefits received with workers’ compensation. Private pensions or disability policies are not included as part of the double recovery process but may impact SSDI benefits.
Should you apply for disability before or after your workers’ compensation settlement?
You may be wondering:
Can I get disability after my workers’ comp settlement?
Yes, you can. Although injured workers can and do receive benefits from both programs at the same time, there are certain advantages to applying after being awarded workers’ compensation.
When you are trying to decide whether to apply for Social Security disability before or after a workers’ comp settlement, one thing to consider is that SSDI and/or SSI benefits are for people who are permanently disabled. If you are considering disability, it is helpful to remember that the SSA does not pay partial benefits.
On the one hand, if Arizona finds that your workplace injury has left you unable to work, this may help you receive disability benefits from Social Security. A severe workplace injury that prevents you from working could help your chances of getting Social Security benefits.
On the other hand, being approved for SSDI could help your workers’ compensation case by helping to demonstrate your level of impairment. In either circumstance, the advice of an attorney is helpful for you to determine your best course of action.
Why you may need help with your workers’ compensation benefits
One thing that you might discover very quickly is that workers’ compensation or Social Security disability applicants seldom get approved on the first attempt. A review of your disability, income, assets and employment history can all play a role in determining what benefits you may receive.