The short answer is yes, you can receive both Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if you qualify for both. They are separate programs. SSDI, which is run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), is federal program. Workers Compensation programs are run by your home state.
Of course, the qualifications for Workers Compensation are quite different than the qualifications used to determine whether you are totally disabled for the purpose of collecting Social Security Disability benefits, so it is entirely possible that you will qualify for one and not the other.
Workers Compensation programs vary from state to state. Going in to all of the particulars of each state’s requirements and benefits is beyond our scope. If you have been hurt on the job and believe you may qualify for Workman’s compensation, you should consult your state authorities or a lawyer who is familiar with the Workers Compensation laws in your state.
Most of the time, Workers Compensation is designed to be temporary, affording employees who have been hurt on the job a period of continuing income while they heal or wait for acceptance for SSDI benefits. Because they are separate entities, receiving Workers Compensation does not disqualify you for SSDI nor does it negatively affect your chances of having your disability claim accepted.
The one effect which collecting Workers Compensation does have on SSDI is that the total income you receive from Workers Compensation and SSDI cannot be more than 80% off your previous income. If the money you are receiving from Workers Compensation and the money you are entitled to through SSDI are greater than 80% of your prior income, the SSA will deduct enough money from your SSDI entitlement to bring your total under 80%. If your Workers Compensation runs out while you are still collecting SSDI, notify the SSA and they will adjust your SSDI benefits appropriately.
It bears mentioning that any private disability insurance you may have, as well as any pensions, do not have any effect on how much you can receive from SSDI benefits. Even if your private disability income insurance payments cause your total income to be more than it was when you were working, your SSDI benefit amount will not be affected.
It is important to note, however, that the requirements for qualifying for disability through SSDI may be considerably different than the requirements for qualifying for Workers Compensation. You are generally considered disabled for Workers Compensation purposes if you are no longer capable of performing the job you were doing when you were injured.
The Social Security Administration, on the other hand, has a very different definition of disability. To qualify for SSDI, you must be considered totally disabled. To qualify as totally disabled, you must demonstrate that you are unable to perform any work which you have ever performed for any employer. Furthermore, that you are unable to perform any meaningful work in any field in which you could reasonably be trained for. Additionally, your disabling condition must be expected to last over a year or be expected to result in your death.
While you can collect Workers Compensation and SSDI at the same time, there are some advantages to applying for one before the other. These advantages vary from state to state. If you plan on receiving both Workers Compensation and SSDI, you would be well advised to seek the advice of a lawyer who is experienced working with both Workers Comp and Social Security Disability claims. In addition to advising you (regarding when you should apply for each type of benefit), they can also help structure your claims (and, if necessary, your appeals) for both programs in a way that is most likely to be accepted.