What’s the Difference Between Workers’ Comp and Social Security Disability?

by Staff Blogger | March 17th, 2021

Your job is your livelihood. When an injury or illness makes it difficult or impossible for you to work, you need a way to replace your lost paychecks. Thankfully, there are two primary ways that people in California can get replacement income when they’re unable to work: workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability (SSD). Because both are designed to give you money when you’re not capable of earning paychecks, it’s easy to get them confused. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we help people who suffer disabling injuries and illnesses get the compensation they need to replace lost pay checks when they can no longer work. That means helping them get SSD benefits. Each injured worker’s case is unique, and some people’s injuries or illnesses mean they may be eligible for only one type of benefit. Others may be eligible for both. Our California SSD lawyers have years of experience building claims for disabled workers. That includes appeals when applications are denied.

Get the Facts on Workers’ Comp vs SSD Benefits

Laws related to workers’ compensation benefits and SSD benefits are completely different. They also have vastly different application requirements. Knowing the differences between these two types of compensation is important for anyone who can’t work and needs a way to replace their lost paychecks. To learn more, check out the infographic below.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Benefits

 Workers’ compensation is a state-based, no-fault program that protects employees beginning on their first day on the job. It typically provides workers with two-thirds of their income and covers workplace injury- and illness-related medical expenses. It also shields employers from lawsuits filed by employees. Here are a few key facts to note about workers’ compensation benefits:
  • They’re paid to injured workers by their employer’s workers’ comp insurance policies.
  • They’re overseen by each state’s Workers’ Compensation Board.
  • They’re awarded for job-related injuries, illnesses, and disabilities.
  • They’re designed to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation.
  • They’re based on your earnings in the past three months.
Let’s now turn our attention to SSD benefits and how they differ from workers’ compensation benefits.

Understanding Social Security Disability Benefits

Unlike workers’ compensation benefits, SSD is built to cover long-term, debilitating injuries. It can cover injuries and illnesses unrelated to work. It’s also a national program, unlike the state-based workers’ compensation. Here are some of the most important things to understand about SSD:
  • SSD is paid by the federal government, instead of the state, and is overseen by the Social Security Administration.
  • SSD benefits are awarded for non-work-related injuries, illnesses, and disabilities that prevent a person from working.
  • SSD is designed to cover the injured person’s living expenses.
  • SSD benefits are based on how much you’ve earned over your lifetime.
As you can see, there are big differences between these two programs. Deciding which one applies to your situation and getting approved to receive that particular benefit can be difficult, but our team can help you determine which path is right for you and assist with your application.

Can You Apply for Workers’ Comp AND SSD?

Yes, you can apply for both. It can take months to be approved for SSD, but workers typically start receiving workers’ compensation benefits soon after their injuries. This means you can receive workers’ compensation while your SSD application is being processed and reviewed. Things get more complicated when it comes to simultaneously receiving workers’ comp and SSD benefits, so it’s worth talking to an experienced attorney about your situation before you move forward with your applications.

We’ll Review All Your Options and Help You Make the Right Decision

In addition to workers’ compensation benefits and SSD benefits, California residents also may apply for the state’s own disability benefits. However, a recipient can’t receive them at the same time as workers’ compensation benefits. It’s also important to note that both state disability benefits and workers’ compensation benefits are designed to be temporary; SSD benefits are designed to be more of a long-term income replacement. In fact, some SSD benefits recipients receive checks for the rest of their lives, or until they transfer to Social Security retirement benefits. Because of the complexities involved with all three types of benefits, it’s essential to have an experienced law firm on your side that is looking out for your best interests when applying for the benefits you need.

Trust Our Experience and Track Record of Success

Both workers’ compensation benefits and SSD benefits are notoriously difficult to get and retain. Both the Social Security Administration and the California Division of Workers’ Compensation have strict criteria for approving claims from injured workers. And when they deny initial applications, successfully appealing their decisions is often an uphill battle. Our team has years of experience and a thorough understanding of how state and federal bodies process claims and appeals. When you contact us, we’ll review the facts of your injury. We’ll then determine how it affects your ability to work and the best course of action for you. Contact our California SSD attorneys today for a free consultation. This blog was originally published in February 2020. It was updated in March 2021.