Following significant work-place injuries, employees and their families often wonder what benefits may collect. There are a few types of benefits injured workers are entitled to, but one specific question is whether the injured worker can recover both workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits?
Is this possible?
The short answer is yes – it is possible for injured workers to collect both workers’ compensation benefits and SSDI benefits at the same time in certain cases. However, these are two complex systems, and individuals must make sure they qualify for both of them separately, as they are a part of separate systems. If person receives benefits from one system, it does not entitle them to benefits from the other system.
How do workers know if they qualify?
- Workers’ compensation: Maryland law governs workers’ compensation benefits. And according to state law, injured workers qualify to collect workers’ compensation if they suffered an accidental injury or occupational disease that arose out of and in the course of their work (Maryland Code, Labor & Employment §9-501).
- SSDI: In contrast, Federal law governs the parameters of receiving SSDI benefits. To obtain SSDI benefits, individuals must have a qualifying disability based on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) guidelines. This disability does not necessarily have to be work-related, but it must prevent individuals from returning to work. As prerequisite, an individual must be out of work for an entire year or be placed out for of work for the foreseeable year in order to qualify for benefits.
The age of an individual and prior occupation has a significant relation to being awarded benefits. A younger person with an advanced education or specialized skill has higher burden to show they are unable to return to the workforce. In contrast, a worker of advanced age with a limited skillset may only need to prove they cannot return to their former employment in order to receive benefits.
Even though individuals can obtain both workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits, there is a limit to how much they can collect. According to the SSA, the total amount of benefits individuals recover cannot exceed 80% of their earnings before the injury or disability.
When could you collect both?
Take the example of a workplace accident leading a worker to suffer a fall. In many cases, a fall can lead to serious physical injuries as well as a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). If the injury is work-related, then individuals can pursue workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical costs and lost wages.
However, a TBI can have a long-lasting, permanent impact on individuals. If the TBI leads to permanent disability and prevents individuals from returning to work, then they can also pursue SSDI benefits.
These are both very complex systems to understand and navigate – especially in such a challenging situation. In these cases, individuals should consider consulting an experienced attorney.