You may have thought about consulting an Atlanta disability lawyer if you’re filing a claim for workers’ compensation or Social Security benefits.
There are also times you may be trying to decide whether to file for both workers’ comp and Social Security disability compensation.
At first, this can feel overwhelmingly complicated, since workers’ comp and Social Security use different sets of standards to determine whether you qualify for benefits, and each has a unique claim and appeals process.
They’re also fundamentally different programs run by different agencies.
Social Security is a federal program overseen by the United States Social Security Administration (SSA).
While there is a federal workers’ compensation program, non-federal employees will seek benefits under the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
When, in what order, and under what conditions you apply for these two types of benefits can have a major impact on the outcome of your case.
Understanding each program individually, and how they impact one another, can save you a lot of time and headaches.
Affleck & Gordon has over 30 years of experience helping clients win their workers’ comp and Social Security benefits.
These are the important facts you need to know about filing for workers’ comp and Social Security disability benefits—and when it may be time to consult an Atlanta disability lawyer.
What Are the Main Differences Between Workers’ Comp and SSDI?
As mentioned above, workers’ comp is a state benefits program that will compensate you when you’re injured or disabled on the job and cannot perform your normal work tasks.
Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, covers disabilities regardless of whether they are linked to the workplace. Eligibility is also determined by your inability to work in general because of your disability, rather than focusing on the limitations on your current job.
Here are a few basic differences between the two types of benefits.
- You’re automatically covered from day one on the job, regardless of income.
- Your employer’s insurer provides medical, rehabilitation, and income benefits if you are injured on the job.
- You may be offered a “light duty” job by your employer if your doctor deems it appropriate.
- You may be offered no income benefits or reduced benefits if your doctor clears you for a sedentary job and you refuse.
- You will receive benefits based on the type and extent of your injury/disability, whether temporary or permanent.
- Benefits will be received either in payments or a lump sum settlement.
- You must understand and comply with Georgia’s workers’ compensation law.
- You’ve worked a certain amount of time and earned enough work credits to qualify, and/or you meet certain age requirements.
- You must qualify under the SSA’s definition of disability.
- You can’t do the work you did before nor a new type of work due to your medical condition.
- Your condition is expected to last more than one year or result in death.
- You earn less than a certain amount (approximately $1,260 a month).
- You may also meet a special condition, such as suffering blindness or low vision, having a disabled child, being a wounded veteran, or being a widower of a disabled worker who has died.
- You are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits if you qualify for SSDI.
- You meet all the SSA’s criteria for SSDI benefits.
There are times you may need to appeal an unfavorable decision in your workers’ compensation or SSDI claim. The process for each is different, and a lawyer can help you navigate each step.
Can I Receive Workers’ Comp and SSDI Benefits at the Same Time?
In short, yes. If you can prove a disabling injury was caused on the job, you can receive both types of benefits.
However, the benefits will offset and be reduced so that they do not exceed 80 percent of your total earnings, or your family members’ total SSDI benefits for the first month of receiving workers’ comp benefits, whichever is higher—usually the 80 percent of total earnings figure.
If you settle your workers’ compensation claim for a lump sum, the SSA will still calculate the amount to offset benefits.
In addition, Medicare coverage may be affected by any workers’ comp medical benefits you receive as a result of a workplace injury or illness. Medicare typically covers medical expenses only when they are not already covered, such as workers’ comp insurance or medical benefits included in a settlement.
There are some types of benefits that will not cause a reduction in SSDI benefits, including: VA benefits, state and local benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), private pensions or insurance benefits.
When Should I Consult an Atlanta Disability Lawyer?
There are many instances where you may wish to consult a disability lawyer to advocate for you when you file SSDI or workers’ compensation claims.
You may need a lawyer if:
- You want a disability law expert to help you through the initial stages of applying for SSDI.
- You need an advocate to appeal an unfavorable decision for your benefits.
- You were injured on the job and your employer is mistreating you, refusing to contact their insurer, or has fired you.
- Your workers’ compensation benefits are late.
- Your workers’ compensation benefits were unfairly denied.
- You need help determining whether to settle and how this will affect your SSDI.
Navigating SSDI and workers’ compensation benefits—and how they affect one another—can lead to unforeseen challenges.
A qualified disability attorney could help you navigate your claims and maximize your potential benefits.
For Social Security, in most instances you won’t pay a lawyer’s fee unless you win your case, and it will be taken as a percentage of your initial earnings.
Having trouble navigating your workers’ compensation or SSDI claim? Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 30 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 795-7227.