Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

Do you get SSDI if you get workers' comp?

If you have qualified for workers' compensation or are thinking about applying for benefits, one of your questions may be whether you automatically qualify for Social Security disability benefits as well.

The short answer is no. Both programs have different requirements, and SSDI is federal, while workers' comp is a state program. That said, many people do qualify for both. Of course, they must go through the application processes separately, and it is possible that you might qualify for one or the other, not both.

Workers' comp is seen as temporary

In general, workers' comp is a temporary solution to help workers deal with injuries. While it can, and does, help pay for medical expenses, rehabilitation and retraining, and gives you weekly disability payments, it is normally not a long-term solution. For example, if your injury occurred in New York state on a date on or after March 13, 2007, and your wage-earning capacity has dropped by more than 95 percent, the most you can receive benefits for is 525 weeks. However, if your injury results in a permanent and total disability, you should be able to get workers' compensation benefits with no limit on the number of weeks. On the other end of the spectrum, if your wage-earning capacity dropped 15 percent or less, you can receive benefits for a maximum of 225 weeks.

SSDI provides longer-term assistance

Social Security disability can step in to provide longer-term assistance once it has become clear that your injury or illness is not going away. However, your SSDI and workers' comp payments together cannot exceed more than 80 percent of your income before you became disabled, or your SSDI amount will decrease. Payments from SSI and from the VA should not affect your SSDI or workers' comp allowances, and if you get private benefits, they should not affect anything either.

The bottom line is that, while it is possible for you to get SSDI and workers' comp at the same time, you have to go through the processes separately and may end up not qualifying for one of the programs.

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