I was injured at work and am receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Should I file a Social Security disability benefits claim now or hold off until my workers’ compensation case is settled?

If you have suffered work-related injuries, you likely filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. If you’re currently receiving workers’ compensation benefits and know you’ll be unable to work for the foreseeable future, you may also consider filing a Social Security disability benefits claim. 

Sometimes, people believe they cannot file for Social Security disability benefits because they collect workers’ compensation. It’s a common misconception. In reality, your workers’ compensation does not affect your eligibility for Social Security disability.

If you need help navigating the legal ramifications of a workers’ compensation or Social Security disability claim, seek the assistance of a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer at Morgan & Morgan. We are well-versed in employment and workers’ compensation law and can provide you with advice for your particular circumstances. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

More answers to commonly asked questions

Social Security disability is a program administered by the Social Security Administration. It is available to help workers who have become disabled and cannot work due to an injury or illness. Anyone with a qualifying disability who has worked for a predetermined number of years may receive Social Security disability benefits. 

Your ability to collect Social Security disability benefits is not affected by your workers’ compensation benefits. You may still apply for Social Security disability, even if you have income from workers’ compensation. 

When the Social Security Administration agents evaluate your application, they will consider your disability, the length of time you have worked, and your ability to work in the future.

If you receive approval for Social Security disability benefits, they may be reduced by the amount you receive in workers’ compensation benefits. 

When evaluating your benefit amount, the Social Security Administration compares your workers’ compensation benefits and your eligibility for Social Security disability with your average current earnings. If the total of your workers’ compensation and your disability benefits exceed 80% of your current earnings, the Social Security Administration will reduce your disability payment. 

For instance, consider an individual who was injured on the job with prior monthly wages of $5,000. In this scenario, their workers’ compensation payment is $3,350 per month, and they decide to make a Social Security disability benefits claim. They meet all the eligibility requirements, and their initial benefit amount is $1,500. 

However, the average current earnings rule limits their disability amount. Instead of receiving the entire $1,500, their monthly disability benefits would be $650. The $650 ensures that their total earnings from workers’ compensation and Social Security disability do not exceed 80% of their average current earnings, or $4,000.

Social Security insurance (SSI) differs from Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). Individuals who receive SSI have generally not worked long enough to obtain SSDI. They tend to have few assets and little available cash to support them.

It is possible to get both SSDI and SSI simultaneously, but a workers’ compensation claim could impact your eligibility for SSI.

If you wait to file a Social Security disability benefits claim, you may be foregoing additional money that could help with your monthly expenses while you’re recovering from your injuries. 

Most workers’ compensation benefits plans pay only two-thirds of the recipient’s average weekly earnings. Individuals who qualify for SSDI may receive up to 80% of their average current earnings. Thus, SSDI can potentially make up an additional 13% of your lost income. 

Applying for SSDI is a lengthy process. Even if you start your application the day after you become disabled, there is a mandatory five-month waiting period for benefits. Waiting for your workers’ compensation to run out only extends the number of months you’ll be without income. 

Instead, it’s best to apply for SSDI as soon as you become disabled. You can request an increase in benefits if you still cannot work after your workers’ compensation runs out.

Most Social Security disability claims are processed within 3 to 5 months. However, if the SSA requires supplementary information to proceed with your claim, it may take much longer. 

If you plan to apply for Social Security Disability, starting the process early is best. You don’t want to hold up your benefits any longer than necessary.

If you haven’t earned the essential work credits required for your age, you won’t be able to collect SSDI. Work credits vary. Someone who is 35 years of age will need 20 work credits — or five full years of work — to qualify for SSDI. However, someone who is 50 will need to have 28 work credits.

It can be challenging to obtain financial assistance for injuries sustained at the workplace. Sometimes, insurance companies won’t approve your workers’ compensation claim, even if you have a verifiable disability or illness. Even if they do approve benefits, they may not be enough to cover your regular earnings. 

Obtaining Social Security disability benefits can help you make up some of your lost income. For help with your workers’ compensation or Social Security disability benefits claim, turn to Morgan and Morgan. Use our contact form to connect with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer for a free case review.