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Social Security Disability v. Workers’ Compensation

Posted by Louis B. Lusk | Oct 23, 2012 | 0 Comments

Social Security Disability v. Workers' Compensation

Every year many people are injured and unable to work, and wonder whether they should seek Social Security Disability benefits or workers' compensation benefits. While both programs are similar, in that they provide payment of benefits to people that are unable to work due to an injury or disease, there are significant differences between the two that you should be aware of before making a decision. It is important to note that Social Security Disability and workers' compensation are not mutually exclusive. In other words, you may apply for both sets of benefits at the same time in some circumstances. However, you will not receive the full amount of both sets of benefits, they will off-set. For example, if you are entitled to $2,000 each month in Social Security Disability benefits and $3,000 each month in workers' compensation benefits, your workers' compensation benefits will be reduced by the amount of Social Security Disability that your receive. In this case, you would then receive $2,000 from Social Security and $1,000 in workers' compensation benefits. The system is intended to prevent an injured person from receiving more money than they are entitled to. There is one very important difference between the two programs that may affect your eligibility. Workers' compensation benefits are only payable to people that are injured in the course of their employment. While this usually means that the employee is injured on a job site, it can also apply to certain situations where an employee is traveling or otherwise away from the job site. Social Security Disability, however, is available to anyone that has paid the minimum amount of taxes into Social Security system and then sustains an injury or suffers from a disease that prevents them from working. Another important distinction between Social Security Disability and workers' compensation is the entity paying the benefits. Social Security Disability is paid by the government, using money paid into the system through payroll taxes. People seeking benefits from the Social Security Administration are petitioning a government agency, and an administrative law judge will adjudicate any disputes. Workers' compensation is paid by insurance companies, funded by premiums paid by employers. Workers that file a claim for workers' compensation benefits are filing with a governmental agency, however, the insurance company will initially determine whether to pay benefits. If a dispute arises over the benefits, an administrative judge will also settle the disagreement. The timing for receipt of benefits differs between the two programs as well. Social Security Disability can only be paid after you have been disabled continuously for a period of five calendar months. Benefits begin with the sixth full month after the date of your disability, and you will not receive any benefits for the waiting period months. Workers' compensation benefits, when they are accepted, begin from the date that the worker is no longer able to work. Finally, the benefits are handled differently for tax purposes. Social Security Disability benefits are subject to federal income taxes if you are in individual with a total income greater than $25,000 or a married couple with a total income greater than $32,000. Workers' compensation benefits are not taxable as income. See Related Links: Why Does Social Security Disability Take So Long? Five Steps To Take Before Filing For Social Security Disability

About the Author

Louis B. Lusk

About Louis B. Lusk – Disability Attorney Attorney Louis B. Lusk has helped thousands of disabled individuals recover Social Security disability and SSI disability benefits.  He is an active member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant's Representatives (NOSSCR), an organizat...


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If you have been turned down for Social Security disability call me at 1 (800) 407-1516. I look forward to hearing from you.