Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits?

Close up of Social Security Disability Claim Form - workers comp and disability concept

If you were hurt on the job, you may be wondering what benefits you might be entitled to if your injuries prevent you from working. Although the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) system can provide you with Workers’ Compensation benefits to cover your medical treatment and a certain percentage of your lost wages, you may also be eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. However, it is vital to understand that these types of benefits are not the same — both serve different purposes and are available in different situations.

What’s the Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability (SSD)?

Workers’ Compensation and SSD are both similar in that they can provide financial assistance if a worker is impaired due to a work-related injury or occupational disease. Specifically, Workers’ Compensation provides both short term and long term benefits to workers who have suffered an injury in a workplace accident or an occupational disease. While temporary total disability benefits may be paid as a worker is recovering from their injuries, a lifetime disability pension may be paid if the worker can never be gainfully be employed again.

Social Security Disability is a federal benefits program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). These benefits are only paid to workers who have suffered long-term impairments that preclude them from obtaining gainful employment. In contrast with L&I benefits, which are only available in cases where a worker was injured on the job, SSD benefits may be paid to workers who are unable to work for a year or more — regardless of whether the injury was incurred at work. Benefits are not available for partial or short term disabilities through this program.

What are the Criteria to Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

The criteria to receive Social Security Disability benefits is different from the criteria imposed by the L&I system to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. Not only must a worker satisfy the SSA’s definition of a disability, but they must have worked long enough to qualify for SSD benefits. The SSA has a strict definition of disability. It considers an individual to have a qualifying disability eligible for SSD benefits if they meet the following criteria:

  • They are unable to work at the substantial gainful activity level because of their medical condition
  • They cannot do work they previously did or adjust to other work due to their medical condition
  • The medical condition has lasted, or is expected to last for at least one year, or result in death

SSD benefits are not paid for partial or short term disabilities. The SSA assumes that injured workers will have access to other benefits for short term disabilities, such as Workers’ Compensation.

Can You Collect SSD and Workers’ Compensation at the Same Time?

An injured worker has the right to collect both Workers’ Compensation and SSD benefits at the same time. However, if they qualify for compensation under both systems, the total amount of benefits may be “offset.” An offset is a reduction in compensation when two different systems are paying benefits.. Offsets can be complex — and the SSA applies a specific formula to calculate the reduction in compensation.

Contact an Experienced Washington Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Many workers are unaware of the benefits to which they are entitled after a workplace accident. If you have been hurt on the job, it is vital to have a skillful Workers’ Compensation attorney by your side who can advise you regarding your rights — and help ensure you obtain the compensation you deserve. The Bellingham Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Robinson & Kole offer committed representation to injured workers throughout Washington State and work diligently to obtain the best possible results in each case. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.