Most California employees who are injured on the job understand that they are entitled to benefits under workers’ compensation laws. What could be surprising to some injured workers is that they have an additional potential for benefits through the Social Security Administration. While not applicable to every injured employee, some are leaving benefits on the table by not applying for Social Security Disability.
Workers’ compensation is intended to be a temporary benefit program that gives eligible employees guaranteed medical treatment and a portion of their regular paycheck while recuperating or getting treatment for on-the-job injuries or work-related diseases. SSD is a total disability program through which eligible citizens can receive benefits if they are unable to work at any job for at least 12 months. If an employee becomes totally disabled after a work injury, they may be eligible for benefits in addition to workers’ compensation. The work injury itself may not be responsible for a total disability finding. However, the claimant may become eligible for SSD benefits with the ailment is considered in conjunction with other unrelated physical conditions.
The SSA is not in the business of subsidizing private employers, however, and takes steps to insure privately acquired workers’ compensation insurance pays its fair share to injured workers before SSD benefits come into play. For this reason, it may be wise for injured employees to complete the workers’ compensation process prior to initiating SSA proceedings — or to at least delay final adjudication of SSA proceedings until some clarity is achieved regarding the totality of workers’ compensation benefits.
Navigating the web of paperwork and procedures related to both workers’ compensation and SSD benefits can be confusing. Consulting a qualified disability lawyer can provide insight and guidance for anyone with questions regarding potential benefits and eligibility.