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Workers’ Compensation vs. Social Security Disability Insurance

Injuries can cause physical and financial distress when you’re unable to work.

If you have been injured and are not able to work, you can make up for lost income using Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Worker’s Compensation Benefits. Understanding how these benefits work can help you make strategic financial decisions while recovering.

Where did you sustain your injury?

If you have been injured at work, workers’ compensation will cover medical care related to your injury. Injuries sustained from other activities or from a chronic medical condition unrelated to your employment do not entitle you to workers’ compensation.

What kind of injury have you sustained?

Many work-related injuries covered by workers’ compensation insurance are temporary. If your injury has resulted in you being unable to work for a long period of time, you may want to look into SSDI. Whether or not the injury was work related, SSDI can provide you with a portion of your normal work earnings. If you are dealing with a chronic but non-work-related medical condition, such as cancer, you can use SSDI to help cover lost wages.

What about insurance premiums?

If your employer provides you with workers’ compensation, your employer will pay the majority of your workers’ compensation premium. Payments to injured employees unable to work because of work-related injuries are the employer’s responsibility. However, state-sponsored workers’ compensation programs require employees to pay a portion of the premium through FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes. Similarly, you contribute to SSDI through FICA taxes taken directly out of your paycheck.

What kind of benefits do you receive through these programs?

The amount of your salary that disability or workers’ compensation insurance will cover depends on what state you live in. Generally, SSDI payments are paid in monthly set amounts. You can claim workers’ compensation benefits in their one lump sum or as monthly payments. Usually, neither program will cover your entire salary.

Workers’ compensation benefits can also help pay for medical expenses related to your work injury, like medical treatment costs, occupational therapy fees, physical therapy fees, rehabilitation service costs, and prescription drug expenses.

How long do benefits last?

Workers’ compensation benefits end when you are able to return to work. SSDI also ends when you are able to return to work or until you reach retirement age, and then they’ll convert to Social Security retirement benefits.

Can you receive benefits from both Social Security Disability and workers’ compensation?

If you have a long term disability or a terminal illness, you may be eligible for both disability and workers’ compensation benefits. Usually, the SSDI payment is partially reduced to reflect your workers’ compensation benefits.

For information about Workers’ Compensation Programs for certain groups of employees, visit: https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/workcomp

For information about workplace safety, visit: https://www.osha.gov

Learn more about disability insurance at https://TriageCancer.org/disabilityinsurance.

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Monica Bryant
mb@triagecancer.org