Can I Apply for Disability While on Workers’ Comp?

March 20, 2020

Yes.  Why should you?

Because ultimately, if you apply for Social Security Disability benefits (commonly called SSD, SSI, or SSDI) while receiving workers’ comp benefits you will be able to qualify for SSD (also called Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI) sooner and avoid any gap in compensation once your workers’ comp benefits run out, or while you are awaiting approval or adjudication of permanent total disability.

Moreover, you may be able to collect them both concurrently, in some circumstances, with the workers’ comp benefits having some effect on the amount of SSD you can collect.

When Should You Apply For Both Disability and Workers’ Comp?

When you’ve received a workplace injury that caused some degree of disability, affecting your ability to work, and perhaps before you even receive your MMI (maximum medical improvement) letter.

Workers’ compensation is governed by state law and is paid from employer insurance coverage.  SSD is a federal program paid for from our pre-tax income when we work. They are two separate compensation schemes but in some cases, an employee is entitled to both concurrently or consecutively.

Our worker’s compensation firm has helped thousands of clients get the SSD benefits and workers’ compensation they deserve. You need no money upfront – we do not get paid until you do! Call us to schedule your free, no-risk consultation at 1-885-744-4300

Who Should Apply for SSD While Receiving Workers’ Comp

If a doctor evaluates you and finds you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), which means you are as healed as you are ever going to be, and you still can’t work, your worker’s comp attorney will help you get permanent total disability benefits (PTD). The problem is, invariably the insurance company will fight that, forcing you to prove that you are permanently and totally disabled in court.

Because the trial schedule for workers compensation allows for only one hearing every three weeks, a trial to decide the extent of disability can take months or even years. This is how insurance carriers try to force you to settle.

It may take up to a year to get an initial hearing on a PTD case, but to apply for SSD can take a year and a half or more. For this reason it may not be in your best interests to wait for MMI to start your SSD application.

What Injuries and Disorders Qualify for SSD?

To qualify for SSDI benefits, your injury or illness must completely prevent you from working for at least 12 months or is likely to result in your death. If you suffer from any of the following and it was caused by workplace conditions or a workplace accident, or is an occupational illness, you might receive both workers comp and SSD.

Health Conditions That May Qualify for SSD

The following mental health conditions, some of which can result from a workplace accident or assault, are compensable through SSD:

  • Manic depression and bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Autism and other pervasive developmental disorders
  • Congenital disorders like Down Syndrome
  • Intellectual disability i.e., low IQ
  • Sociopathic tendencies
  • Schizophrenia or paranoia
  • Memory loss due to illness or traumatic brain injury
  • Substance addiction

The following physical conditions, whether caused by workplace accident or assault or not, are also recognized as compensable through SSD:

  • Cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and strokes
  • Digestive issues such as IBS
  • Disorders affecting the adrenal, pancreas, parathyroid, pituitary and thyroid glands
  • Kidney disease or disorders
  • Hemophilia
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, cerebral palsy, MS, muscular dystrophy, or ALS
  • Mesothelioma
  • Skin Burns or skin lesions
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss

SSD Disability vs Workers Comp Disability

For the purposes of workers’ compensation, you are considered disabled if your injury or illness prevents you from performing the job you had when you were injured or became ill and otherwise affects your everyday life.

For the purposes of SSD, you are disabled if you are completely unable to work at any job for at least 12 months.

For this reason, employees who qualify for workers’ comp may not qualify for SSD. And, people whose injury, illness, or condition was not caused in the workplace or by the work they performed will not qualify for workers’ comp but may qualify for SSD.

Can I Get Disability After I Get a Workers’ Comp Settlement?

Yes, and you can collect workers’ comp and SSD at the same time, but keep in mind that the amount of SSD you are entitled to depends upon the amount of workers’ comp you received.

SSD can only be collected up to 80% of your former income as an employee. Workers’ comp benefits figure into that calculation and will reduce the amount of SSD you receive. Contrast workers comp benefits with other income you might have in this situation. If you are collecting private disability insurance benefits or your pension, neither of these will affect the amount of SSD you are entitled to.

Talk To An Attorney About Your Case Today

Consult with an experienced SSDI and workers compensation attorney to find out whether you are eligible to collect both workers’ comp and SSD benefits, and how you should plan the timing of your applications for both.

Free Consultation with Larry Pitt