You were seriously injured on the job, and it looks like you won’t be able to return to work anytime soon — if ever. Should you file for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits now, or should you wait until your workers’ compensation claim is settled?
There’s no correct answer that applies to every situation. Here are the things you need to know as you make your decision:
- Workers’ comp and SSD don’t operate by the same rules. What makes you disabled under the workers’ comp system may not qualify you for SSD benefits. For SSD, you must have a condition that not only prevents you from returning to your regular work but also keeps you from doing any other form of substantial gainful activity — among other requirements that must be met.
- Whatever happens in your workers’ comp claim has no bearing on your SSD claim — and vice versa. You can collect both benefits at the same time. However, the total of the benefits together, when they overlap, cannot be greater than 80% of your average current income prior to your disability. When it exceeds that amount, your SSD will be reduced. (Once your worker’s comp stops, your SSD will no longer be reduced.)
- It can take months — or years — to get an SSD claim approved. Even if you file your claim today, you could be in for a long, involved process. If your SSD claim is denied, as many are, you’ll need to file an appeal. You may even need to go to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
The intersection between workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability is confusing for many. It may be wisest to speak with an experienced attorney about the specifics of your case to learn more.