I was Disabled at Work, am I Still Eligible?

A: Yes, it is possible to receive both workers' compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits at the same time.

Although they both support workers who are unable to maintain gainful employment due to an injury, the two programs have no correlation that prevents you from being limited to collecting one or the other. workers' compensation programs are run by the state while SSDI is delivered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), which is a federal organization.

In most instances, workers' compensation is intended as a temporary support for employees who have been injured on the job, ensuring that they receive an income to cover their living expenses until they are either:

  • well enough to return to work OR
  • approved for SSDI benefits

Can I get injured at work and still be approved?

SSDI provides monthly cash benefits to disabled workers who have been employed long enough to pay a certain amount in Social Security taxes. Because they are separate programs, receiving workers' compensation does not negatively affect the likelihood of having your disability claim approved.

Qualifying for SSDI Benefits

What may impact your SSDI claim is the nature of your injury. You are typically considered disabled for workers' compensation purposes if you can no longer perform the duties assigned to you at the time you were hurt. To qualify for SSDI, you must be deemed totally disabled, which means that:

  • You cannot do any work for which you have been trained or acquired experience
  • You cannot perform any gainful work in a field for which you could reasonably be trained

Additionally, your disability must be expected to last over a year or be expected to end in your death.

The Social Security Administration may also alter your monthly benefit about based on how much you receive from workers' compensation. In general, the total amount you get from SSDI and workers' compensation combined cannot be higher than 80% of your regular income before you became disabled.

For example, if you earned $3000 per month before disability set in, you cannot make more than $2400 a month in combined benefit payments. If your income exceeds that threshold, the SSA will adjust your SSDI payment amount to keep it at or below $2400. If your workers' compensation payments cease for any reason, the SSA will restore your SSDI installment to the normal amount you are eligible for.

It is important to note that this ‘capping’ by the SSA only applies to public programs. If you receive privately funded insurance benefits, your SSDI will not be affected.

Starting Your SSDI Application

While you can certainly collect workers' compensation and SSDI simultaneously, there are a few advantages to applying for one before the other. These advantages will vary according to your state of residence, so it’s always recommended that you consult with an attorney who has experience with both workers' compensation and Social Security disability claims. Your attorney can advise you on when you should apply for one benefit relative to the other and help you prepare applications that have the best possible chance of being accepted.

Additional Resources