Disabilities and work-related injuries can put employees out of work, bringing serious financial fallout to the employees and their families. Fortunately, workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability payments can ease that financial stress.
If you have been injured at work and are facing long-term disability, consult with a lawyer experienced in worker’s compensation and Social Security Disability cases promptly. With representation and swift action from a Pilzer and Klein attorney, you have a better chance of being approved for benefits and experiencing financial relief.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is insurance purchased by employers to cover the medical costs and wage losses of workers who experience work-related injuries or illnesses. These injuries may occur on the job site or while traveling for work. Employees are eligible for workers’ compensation, should they need it, starting their first day on the job.
Workers’ compensation immediately pays medical costs for work-related injuries. For temporary disability payments, there is a three- to seven-day waiting period. Approved applicants can also receive permanent partial and permanent total disability benefits if warranted by the consequences of the injury.
In almost every state, employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, though there are state-by-state variables. For example, in North Carolina, employers with three or more employees must have worker’s compensation insurance. In South Carolina, employers with four or more employers must purchase it.
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What Are SSD Benefits?
Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are federal funds paid through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The funds compensate workers who have experienced long-term or permanent physical or mental conditions preventing them from performing “substantial, gainful activity” (SGA). The medical conditions prompting the application for compensation must be expected to last for at least one year or lead to death.
Unlike workers’ compensation benefits, an illness or injury does not have to be work-related for parties to receive SSD benefits.
What Are the Differences Between Workers’ Compensation and SSD?
First, workers are eligible to receive workers’ compensation starting their first day on the job. SSD is only paid to workers who have a substantive work history and have paid into the Social Security system.
Second, workers’ compensation covers both short- and long-term disabilities and partial or total disabilities, as long as those conditions have work-related causes. SSD covers those affected by non-work related conditions that are long-term and severe enough to prevent the applicant from working.
Third, workers’ compensation for medical bills usually starts immediately after the workplace injury. However, it can take a couple of weeks to more than a month for workers’ compensation disability payments to kick in. SSD payments usually begin five full months after the disability starts, provided applications are submitted promptly.
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Can I Receive Both Workers’ Compensation and SSD Benefits?
Disabled workers can receive both forms of compensation. However, the amount of the SSD benefits may be affected by workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits received, such as civil service or retirement benefits received because of a disability. Some public benefits, such as Veterans Administration Benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), do not affect the amount.
The total benefit amount received from workers’ compensation, other public disability benefits, and SSD benefits cannot amount to more than 80% of the worker’s current earnings pre-disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines each applicant’s average current earning (ACE) rate.
It will always be SSD payments, not workers’ compensation payments, that are reduced to meet the 80% threshold. Workers’ compensation benefits are not affected by SSD.
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Do I Have to Tell the SSA About My Worker’s Compensation Benefits?
Those collecting SSD must inform the SSA of any changes in workers’ compensation payments. Workers should send the SSA copies of any new workers’ compensation decisions so the appropriate SSD payment adjustments are made. If the SSA is not informed of changes and overpays, the disabled party’s SSD payments may be suspended to correct the overpayment.
How Do I Secure Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workers need to get medical attention right away and report the incident to their employer. States have different deadlines for reporting. In South Carolina, workers must report injuries to employers within 90 days. Though specifics vary from state to state, the next step is usually for employers to fill out and file claims with the appropriate office. If a claim is denied, workers usually have the right to request a hearing.
For best outcomes, disabled and injured applicants should seek legal representation. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will help the injured party collect and organize the evidence required to prove their case. They also will act on the worker’s behalf should employers refuse to cooperate.
How Do I Secure SSD Benefits?
Those who qualify for SSC have
- Worked jobs that paid into SSA
- Earned enough work credits
- A condition meeting the SSA’s definition of “disability”
For a condition to be disabling under SSA guidelines, it must prevent the applicant from performing SGA, have lasted or be expected to last at least a year or result in death.
The SSA requires comprehensive and specific evidence before determining a condition as a disability and providing payments. As the application process is time-consuming, potentially frustrating, and high stakes, it is best to have an SSD lawyer manage it.
How Do I Know Whether to Apply for SSD if I Receive Worker’s Compensation?
It is generally a good idea for disabled workers to apply for SSD if they expect to be out of work for at least a year, even if they already receive workers’ compensation. Of course, it is best to review all options with an experienced attorney.
Time Is of the Essence
Though workers’ compensation and SSD benefits exist to help injured and disabled workers, securing those funds is often a long and complicated process, and all filings must occur according to state or federal guidelines. That process is much easier and far less stressful when managed by a skilled attorney from Pilzer and Klein. We will handle all the paperwork, filing, and, if necessary, all negotiations.
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