Workers' compensation benefits can help people who have been injured on the job, providing them with funds to cover medical expenses and lost wages while they recover. But what if they never fully recover?
Social Security Disability Insurance is a program that provides people with benefits after they are no longer able to work for a living due to injury, illness or other condition. As with Social Security retirement benefits, workers pay into the system with each paycheck. If they become disabled after they have been in the workforce for a sufficient amount of time, they can apply for Social Security Disability benefits, which are meant to partly offset their loss of income.
It may not be a good idea to collect workers' compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time. When you collect workers' compensation benefits or other public disability benefits, the amount you can collect in Social Security Disability benefits will be reduced. Under the rules of the Social Security Disability Insurance program, the total dollar amount you receive in Social Security Disability benefits, workers' compensation benefits and other public disability benefits must be no more than 80% of your average income before you were disabled.
One way around this issue is to stagger the benefits programs you rely upon. Workers' compensation disability benefits typically expire after a year or so. Often, a worker will rely upon these benefits until they expire, and then begin collecting Social Security Disability benefits.
This approach poses some risk, because applications for Social Security Disability benefits are often rejected, and the applicant must try again. It is a good idea to talk to an attorney with experience in both systems.