The line between workers’ compensation and social security disability (SSD) can be a thin one. While they are two vastly different benefit programs they can sometimes both become necessary if you’ve suffered a major injury.

Were you injured on the job?

If you were seriously injured at work, you’re likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. California state law requires that all employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover injured employees. These benefits are designed to provide you with compensation for medical treatments and lost wages for workdays missed due to your injury.

Does workers’ compensation cover permanent injuries?

A more serious injury can have a major impact on your ability to perform at work, leaving you unable to ever return. It is possible to receive permanent disability benefits from your employer if your injury is considered, “permanent and stationary” (P&S).

It is up to your primary physician to define your condition as permanent and stationary, this typically happens when your injury has reached maximal medical improvement. Once you’ve reached this stage, your doctor will be responsible for writing a P&S report and sending it to your claims administrator. This report should include:

  • Particular medical issues including mobility and pain
  • Work restrictions, what you can and cannot do
  • If future medical care is necessary
  • How much of your disability was caused by your job and how much was contributed by outside factors

Can you collect workers’ compensation and social security disability at the same time?

Yes, it is possible for some injured workers to qualify for both types of benefits. However, qualifying for one will not automatically qualify you for the other. These two programs are completely separate entities; workers’ compensation is state run whereas Social Security is a federally run program. Each program has its own eligibility requirements and must be dealt with individually.

Does Social Security disability only cover work-related injuries?

No, your injury does not have to be work-related for you to be eligible for SSD benefits. In order to qualify for SSD benefits, you must:

  • Be medically unable to work for at least one year or until death
  • Be younger than retirement age

Don’t hesitate on an injury

Waiting too long to seek medical treatment after an injury is the worst thing you can do for yourself. Not only are you risking further physical damage, it could also create unnecessary problems during the claims process. Your health and well-being should always come first.