How Workers' Compensation Affects Disability Benefits

With Social Security Disability, someone has to be injured so badly that they cannot work for at least 12 months, or their medical condition will result in death. Unlike Social Security retirement benefits, applicants don’t have to wait until they reach retirement age to access disability benefits. Instead, they must earn enough work credits and meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of a disability to get approved.

It is not uncommon for someone to be injured on the job and in effect, qualify for workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits. So, can an injured worker collect both types of benefits? Or, does collecting workers’ compensation reduce one’s disability benefits?

How Workers’ Comp Affects SSDI Benefits

If an injured worker obtains workers’ compensation benefits through a state or federal (for federal workers) workers’ compensation agency, it does not bar the worker from applying for Social Security Disability benefits; however, their workers’ compensation benefits may reduce their SSDI benefits.

“How does it work?” Suppose you receive workers’ compensation AND SSDI benefits. In this situation, the total amount of benefits you receive cannot exceed 80% of your average current earnings before the injury.

If the total amount of benefits you are receiving exceeds 80% of your income before the accident, the excess is deducted by the SSA from your SSDI benefit – it won’t be deducted from your workers’ compensation benefit.

Do All Public Benefits Impact SSDI?

Not all public benefits impact SSDI benefits. For example, if you receive disability benefits andone of the following public benefits, your disability benefit will not be affected. It will not be reduced at all:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI),
  • Veterans Administration benefits, or
  • State or local government benefits, providing you paid Social Security taxes on them.

If you are filing a workers’ compensation claim and you believe you qualify for SSDI benefits as well, we recommend also filing a claim for disability. Nothing should stop you from receiving all of the benefits you are entitled to under the law.