Recently on our disability forum a user asked, I was paralyzed at work when a large steel beam fell and crushed my spine. I know I will get some type of workers compensation from my employer, but I am wondering if I will also receive SSDI benefits for my injuries?
Workers compensation and paralyzed at work
Every year hundreds of workers are injured at work while performing their normal job duties. Thankfully, workers compensation laws provide compensation to workers, including medical treatment for work-related conditions and cash payments that partially replace lost wages. If the injuries are temporary they may receive temporary benefits, but permanent benefits may also be paid if the worker is never able to return to work.
If you have been paralyzed at work you need to immediately report the injury, talk to your human resources department, and get proper medical care.
Social Security Disability Insurance and paralyzed at work
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federally administered program which provides both medical insurance and wage replacement benefits to workers who are insured and who have a severe health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months and does not allow them to return to work.
Although both workers compensation and SSDI provide benefits to disabled workers, the programs are quite different. In fact, most workers are covered under workers compensation from their first date of employment and workers compensation benefits cover both short and long-term conditions.
SSDI benefits, however, are earned by accumulating work credits by paying employment taxes and are only available for those who are 100% disabled and who have a long-term condition.
Can I get both SSDI and workers compensation if I am paralyzed at work?
Workers who meet the qualifications for both SSDI and workers compensation may receive both benefits simultaneously, but there is a catch. Although some public benefits do not affect your SSDI benefits- Veteran Administration benefits, state and local government benefits- workers compensation benefits do.
So lets take a look at the rules. The SSA states that if your monthly Social Security disability benefits, including benefits payable to your family members, are added together with your workers compensation or other public disability payment and the total benefits exceeds 80 percent of your average current earnings, the excess amount is deducted from your Social Security benefit.
So, for example, lets say that before you were paralyzed at work you were earning on average $4,000 a month. After the injury you, your two children, and your spouse are eligible to receive another $2,200 per month in Social Security disability benefits. Now, lets also say that you are also eligible to receive $2,000 per month in workers compensation benefits.
But heres the rub- the cumulative total from both SSDI and workers compensation would be $4,200, which is more than 80 percent ($3,200) of your average current earnings ($4,000). In this case, your familys SSDI would be reduced by $1,000 ($4,200 - $3,200).
If you are paralyzed at work you can receive both SSDI and workers compensation benefits but your SSDI benefits can be offset.