Disability Benefits for Work Related Injuries
Some disabilities are the result/or caused in part by work-related injuries. If you have suffered a work-related injury you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits, which are paid by your employer or your employer's insurance carrier. In California, you can receive up to 2 years of workers' compensation temporary disability benefits. This is in addition to any permanent disability benefits you may be entitled to. Permanent disability benefits typically start being paid once your temporary disability benefits have stopped. They are paid every two weeks. Once your case is settled, you will likely receive any remaining owed permanent disability benefits as a lump sum.
If you have a serious work related injury and your disability is expected to last for at least 12 months or death, you may also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
When Should You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
You do not need to wait for your workers' compensation benefits to stop to apply for Social Security Disability! In most cases, I recommend that my client apply for Social Security Disability right away. So, if you believe you are disabled and are unable to work, you should apply for Social Security Disability benefits even if you are still on workers' compensation.
The same is true if you are on California State Disability Insurance. In fact, you can apply for SSDI benefits at the same time you apply for California State Disability Insurance (SDI). However, you cannot receive the full amount of Social Security Disability Benefits if you are also receiving workers' compensation benefits or state disability. (I explain more about how your benefit amount is calculated in these situations below.) So, why would I recommend applying for Social Security Disability benefits if you are already receiving workers' compensation or State Disability Insurance?
Why You Should Not Wait to Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance
Because, the process for obtaining Social Security Disability benefits can take a VERY long time, especially if you are denied once, twice or more times! Social Security estimates that it takes 90 – 120 days to process an initial application. However, the wait can be longer and it is not unheard of for applications to take six months to process. For someone who must wait until the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing to be awarded benefits, the wait time from the initial application to ALJ decision can easily be two years!
Social Security Disability Benefits Amount if You Receive Workers' Compensation or State Disability Insurance
If you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits for the same time period that you receive another disability benefit (State Disability or Workers' Compensation temporary or permanent disability), Social Security will off-set/reduce your Social Security disability benefit. The rule states that the combination of a person's Social Security Disability benefits + State Disability Insurance + Workers’ Compensation benefits cannot exceed 80% of average monthly earnings. However, once the worker reaches age 62, only 25% of Social Security Disability benefits are used in this formula. Benefit off-sets can be complicated, so if you are receiving a combination of the above benefits it's a good idea to discuss this with your workers' compensation and/or Social Security Disability attorney.