Workers’ compensation benefits include medical compensation and wage benefits. If your work injury prevents you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits while you recover. This leads many workers to wonder if they can collect workers’ compensation and disability insurance at the same time.
In short, yes, it is possible to receive workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits at the same time. To do so, you will need to qualify for both. You should also understand that receiving SSD benefits may affect how much you can collect from your workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ Compensation Versus Disability Benefits
First, let’s look at the key differences between workers’ compensation and disability insurance.
How Workers’ Compensation Works
Workers’ compensation, or workers’ comp, is insurance your employer purchases to cover workers who are injured at work:
- In Georgia, employers with three or more regular employees are required to carry workers’ comp—so most workers are covered.
- You are covered by workers’ comp from your first day of employment.
- After a work injury, you can file a workers’ comp claim for compensation of your medical costs and supplemental income if you can’t work for a certain period of time.
To qualify for workers’ compensation, your injury does not have to happen while you are performing work duties. However, it does need to happen while you are at work. In some situations, you may be covered if you are injured while traveling for work.
Georgia workers’ compensation is run by the state of Georgia.
How Social Security Disability Works
SSD is a federal program, and benefits are provided through the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you have worked a job, you’ve paid into SSD through a portion of each paycheck.
SSD is meant to provide you with income if you become disabled and unable to work. You must have a disabling condition that prevents you from working. Unlike workers’ compensation, your disability does not need to result from a work-related injury or condition.
To qualify for SSD, you must have:
- Earned enough work credits over the past 10 years
- Paid into SSD through your previous employment
- Have a condition that the SSA recognizes as disabling
- Be unable to work for at least a year (or have a condition that is expected to end in death)
Both workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits typically continue until you are able to return to work on a regular basis (if that is possible).
How You Can Collect Both Workers’ Compensation and Disability
Since workers’ comp and SSD are two separate entities, receiving one does not disqualify you from collecting the other. In fact, employees who were hurt at work can receive workers’ compensation as helpful supplemental income if they are now disabled and waiting to get accepted for SSD benefits. However, what you collect from both workers’ compensation and disability benefits can’t be more than 80% of the previous income you were earning.
According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC), while you can be paid Social Security and workers’ compensation at the same time, your Social Security benefits might be reduced as a result. This might limit the total benefits you can receive, as the SSA will subtract from your SSD benefits to bring the total you’re receiving below 80% of your previous income.
Workers’ compensation is typically provided on a more temporary basis compared to SSD. If your workers’ comp ends while you are still getting Social Security benefits, you will need to let the SSA know. You might be eligible for higher Social Security benefits if you are no longer collecting workers’ comp.
Defining Disability: Workers’ Comp Versus Social Security
Keep in mind that the SBWC and SSA define disability quite differently. Under workers’ comp, you are covered if a work injury prevents you from performing the duties of your current job. You typically receive temporary total disability benefits, which assume you will return to work after your treatment.
Social Security, on the other hand, can only be collected when you are totally disabled. That means you cannot perform any type of work, including previous jobs or any other jobs. If you are permanently disabled because of your work injury, you might be able to receive permanent total disability benefits at the same time as SSD benefits.
You may also have access to temporary partial or permanent partial disability benefits through workers’ compensation if you have to take a lower-paying job when you return to work. In this situation, you would not be able to collect SSD benefits at the same time because you are still making an income.
Getting Approved for Workers’ Compensation and Disability Benefits
After a work injury that leaves you disabled, you should get started with your claim as soon as possible. You will need to:
- Report your work injury to your employer
- Complete and file a Form WC-14 with the SBWC
- Send a copy of the form to your employer and their insurance company
- Get all the necessary medical treatment for your injuries
- Contact a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you with your claim and protect your rights
If you win your workers’ comp claim, it doesn’t affect your ability to seek SSD benefits or whether or not you’ll get accepted for benefits. That being said, you should also get started on your SSD application, as it can take many months to get approved for benefits.
Many applicants are also unfortunately denied on the first try for SSD benefits, so it’s best to have a lawyer evaluate your application and give you the best chance at approval.
Lastly, we highly recommend contacting a lawyer who has experience with both workers’ compensation and SSD claims. Depending on your situation, there are sometimes advantages to filing for one before the other. An attorney can advise you on the best course of action for your situation and your needs.
Talk to a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free Today
Both workers’ compensation and disability benefits can help you make ends meet after an injury or condition prevents you from working. At John Foy & Associates, we have more than two decades of experience helping individuals with both types of claims—and we can assist you, too.
Contact us today and we’ll give you a FREE, risk-free consultation to discuss your options. Call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for your FREE consultation.