Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

Social Security disability and workers' compensation may overlap


Many people don't realize it, but there can be significant overlap between the workers' compensation system and the Social Security disability system. Usually, individuals who are injured on the job seek workers' compensation so that they can recoup their lost wages and medical expenses, thereby allowing them to focus on their recovery and returning to work. Many times, though, these individuals find that they are unable to return to work on account of their medical condition, which drives them to seek Social Security disability benefits.

Of course, over the life of an individual, SSD benefits can be much more significant than those paid out by workers' compensation, but the requirements to obtain and retain SSD benefits are much more stringent. Medical evidence must be presented to show that one's condition qualifies as a "disability", meeting the definition set by the federal government. This evidence can be disputed, and even once SSD benefit are obtained, an individual can be subjected to reconsideration of his or her medical condition in the future to determine whether benefits are still justified.

The biggest increase in SSD benefits came during the Great Recession. From 2001 to 2015, the system saw the number of benefit recipients increase by nearly 60 percent, which caused costs to balloon from $60 billion per year to $143 billion per year. Although the number of recipients has remained steady of the last couple of years, there are concerns that changes to some workers' compensation systems will shift costs to the disability system, which would make it harder for injured workers to access the funds they need.

Being subjected to a medical condition, whether a workplace injury, a serious illness or an incurable disease, can leave an individual and his or her family struggling to get by. By discussing the matter with a skilled legal professional. However, these individuals may be able to find resolutions that provide them with the financial resources they need to focus on what matters most to them.

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