workers’ compensation and social security benefits

Can You Use Disability and Workers’ Compensation Together?

Employees who suffer job injuries may be eligible to file workers’ compensation claims and receive medical, wage replacement, and disability benefits while they heal. Workers’ compensation programs are administered at the state level, but in some cases, injured employees could also qualify for federal disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

While workers’ compensation and Social Security both aim to provide support, they serve different purposes. The experienced attorneys at Stewart Law Offices have decades of experience helping clients in the Carolinas pursue combined benefits for their injuries and illnesses. Contact us today for a free case review.

The Competing Interests of Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation benefits offer relief and coverage to employees who sustain work-related injuries or are diagnosed with occupational illnesses. These benefits are available regardless of fault, meaning that employees do not have to prove anyone else is responsible for their injury to get paid. The purpose of the no-fault system is to provide injured workers with timely medical care, rehabilitation services, and partial wage replacement as they recover. The trade-off is that employees cannot sue their employers for their injury or illness.

Alternatively, Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI) provide financial assistance to people who have contributed to Social Security during their working years and are currently unable to work due to their disabilities. These benefits provide monthly payments to support claimants expected to have a disability lasting at least 12 months.

Benefits of Both Programs

It is essential to understand what workers’ compensation and SSDI programs offer injured and disabled workers. Workers’ compensation provides employees with the following benefits:

  • Medical treatment – These benefits ensure injured workers receive authorized medical treatment without incurring substantial out-of-pocket costs.
  • Partial wage replacement – Wage-loss benefits provide a portion of the worker’s average weekly wage during recovery. This money is a lifeline to prevent employees from experiencing financial hardships while they cannot work.
  • Vocational rehabilitation—These benefits connect workers with professionals who assist them in exploring new occupational options when they can’t return to their pre-injury jobs.
  • Death benefits – If a work injury results in death, qualifying family members can pursue death benefits and receive weekly compensation based on their loved one’s average weekly wage.

By contrast, Social Security disability payments are made monthly to claimants to cover essential living expenses while they cannot work.

How Social Security and Workers’ Compensation Claims Affect Each Other

When pursuing a Social Security disability insurance claim and a workers’ compensation claim, it is important to understand that eligibility for one program does not mean that a claimant is automatically eligible for the other. Workers’ compensation primarily addresses workplace injuries, while SSDI focuses on disabilities that hinder substantial gainful activity. Conversely, receiving a denial in one program does not mean that you are automatically disqualified from receiving the other.

Each program has a distinct evaluation process. People can pursue appeals or reapply for benefits in one program without affecting the status of their claims in the other program.

Receiving benefits from workers’ compensation and SSDI simultaneously may require adjustments, or offsets, in some cases. These offsets ensure that claimants do not receive more than 80 percent of their average current earnings when they receive combined benefits from both sources.

The medical coverage and vocational rehabilitation benefits provided by workers’ compensation are not taken into account when calculating the offset. SSDI does not include any benefit aside from the monthly benefit, but those who are eligible for SSDI will become eligible for Medicare after being on SSDI for two years if they are not already eligible due to their age.

Should I Apply for Social Security Disability Before or After a Workers’ Comp Settlement?

Determining the appropriate time to apply for each type of benefit can be confusing. Applying for SSDI benefits before a workers’ compensation settlement is complete allows an injured worker to initiate the process early on. If an injured employee files an SSDI claim once they realize they’re disabled but before negotiating a workers’ compensation settlement, they will have a steady income from workers’ comp while waiting on SSDI approval.

However, applying for SSDI after a workers’ compensation settlement will affect the award for the SSDI benefits. Settlements from workers’ compensation can result in an offset or an adjustment in the SSDI benefit. The portion of the settlement that is payment for wages the employee loses will be pro-rated for the time they cover. SSDI benefits may be suspended for a similar period. A seasoned workers’ compensation attorney can provide you with a better idea of which option will work best for your particular circumstances.

How an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help

Applying for workers’ comp and/or SSDI benefits is complex, especially for those who have never filed claims before. Working with the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Stewart Law Offices can alleviate some of the stress and confusion you may feel. Our lawyers will:

  • Assess eligibility criteria for both programs to determine which benefits you qualify for
  • Clarify how a claim for one program may impact the other, including any potential offsets
  • Gather relevant medical evidence necessary to pursue each claim type
  • Provide legal guidance throughout the application process
  • Advocate for your rights during any disputes or appeals related to your benefits claims
  • Ensure compliance with deadlines and requirements
  • Represent you during the negotiation process
  • Offer personalized advice that reflects your unique circumstances and needs

For a law firm with a proven track record of success in securing significant compensation for clients, you want Stewart Law Offices. We have obtained multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements for our past clients. Case results vary, and prior results do not guarantee any future outcomes. Still, you can rest assured that we use the same level of determination in pursuit of your workers’ compensation or Social Security disability benefits.

Call Stewart Law Offices for a Free Consultation Today

If you suffered a work-related injury and need an experienced South Carolina worker’s compensation lawyer, reach out to the team at Stewart Law Offices. Call or contact us today for a free case review.