Workers’ compensation and disability have similarities, but there are different purposes for each. If you become sick or injured and unable to work because of it, depending on the details of your situation, you may have access to both types of benefits. Let’s look at the main difference between workers’ compensation and disability benefits.
What Is the Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Disability?
Let’s compare the details of workers’ compensation insurance with disability insurance.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Benefits
Workers’ compensation, also known as workers’ comp, refers to benefits an employee is paid after they become injured on the job. Most employers are required to purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy to cover each of their employees. (In Georgia, all businesses with three or more regular employees must have workers’ compensation, according to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation [SBWC]).
Benefits provided to injured employees through workers’ comp include:
- Compensation of medical costs, including current and future
- Wage benefits if you are out of work for at least seven days
- Rehabilitation benefits
- Death benefits for dependents (if you are killed from a work injury)
With workers’ compensation cases, there is no litigation or need to prove someone was at fault. You should have access to benefits until you are either fit to return to work, your injury has improved as far as it’s going to with treatment, or you have met the maximum weeks for workers’ comp coverage.
Temporary total disability benefits through workers’ compensation are paid weekly at two-thirds of the average weekly wage you were earning before your injury. The amount you can receive weekly is capped at $675 per week and limited to 400 weeks total. So, workers’ comp is typically provided on a temporary basis unless your injury permanently disables you from any work.
Disability Insurance and Benefits
In contrast to workers’ comp, disability insurance is not limited to injuries or illnesses that are work-related. However, it can apply to workers who were injured away from work and cannot work due to injury or illness. Through their disability insurance, workers can request time off for treatment.
Unlike workers’ comp, disability benefits are not paid through your employer. They are provided through the Social Security Administration (SSA). In Georgia, you must apply for disability benefits through a local SSA office. SSA manages two disability programs:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
To qualify for SSDI, you must have a disability that prevents you from doing substantial work and lasts (or is expected to last) for at least a year. In addition, you must have earned enough Social Security credits.
The same criteria for SSDI apply to SSI benefits except that they are meant for low-income and low-asset individuals who do not qualify for the work history portion of SSDI. Those who qualify for SSI also receive Medicaid and may be able to receive food stamps.
While workers’ comp benefits depend on the income you were receiving at your current job, SSDI benefits depend on your average lifetime earnings. The average for SSDI in 2020 is $1,258, and most recipients receive somewhere in the $800 to $1,800 range per month.
Can You Receive Workers’ Comp and Disability Benefits at the Same Time?
There are situations where you may be eligible for both workers’ compensation and disability benefits at the same time—if you meet the criteria for both. As mentioned above, you must have a condition that has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year (or it must be terminal). You also must have earned the appropriate number of work credits through Social Security.
After your workers’ compensation benefits stop, disability benefits can help provide necessary income for your living needs, especially if you are found to have a permanent and total disability. However, if you are receiving workers’ compensation and SSDI at the same time, it will probably reduce your SSDI benefits.
Ways Workers’ Compensation and Disability Are the Same
Workers’ compensation and disability are the same in that they provide weekly payments to help make up for lost income because of a disabling injury or illness. Becoming unable to work is a scary situation, and it can leave you wondering how to support yourself and your family. Both workers’ comp and disability benefits can help.
Both Benefits Are Often Hard to Obtain
Unfortunately, a lot of workers and SSDI applicants have trouble getting the benefits they deserve. With workers’ comp, you are filing a claim with an insurance company that is likely looking for ways to pay you less. The insurer or your employer might try to:
- Say that your injuries were from a pre-existing condition
- Claim your injuries didn’t happen at work
- Downplay your injuries and try to push you back into work before you’re fully recovered
With SSDI, the process is so strict that many qualifying applicants fall through the cracks. You must have a strong application with a clear demonstration of your disabling condition. If you get denied on your first try, you will need to know how to appeal the decision and improve your chances of approval.
If you are experiencing issues getting the workers’ compensation or disability benefits you need and deserve, an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer (and Social Security Disability lawyer) can help. Our attorneys at John Foy & Associates have more than 20 years of experience working in both areas—and we know how to win cases. Call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.
Limitations of Workers’ Compensation and Disability
Both forms of benefits do not provide you with the full salary you were receiving before your injury or disability. With workers’ compensation, you may sometimes need to pay a premium for long-term coverage of serious injuries or illness. These limitations make it all-the-more important for you to seek the full benefits you deserve.
Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Georgia for Free Today
The main difference between workers’ compensation and disability comes down to work-related versus not-work-related. However, the two have similarities, and both are meant to help you fill in the gaps when you cannot work. In Georgia, it’s easy to run into issues with both—and that’s where an experienced lawyer can help.
John Foy & Associates have been helping both injured workers and disabled individuals get the benefits they need for over 20 years. Let us help you, too—starting with a FREE consultation. To get started today, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for your FREE consultation.