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What are different options and benefits for injured workers?

Workers who have suffered an on-the-job injury or illness may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits. Benefits include both medical expenses and lost wages. A little over 10 years ago, workers' compensation covered over 125 million workers and total workers' compensation benefit payments equaled $53.4 billion. Depending on the circumstances, different types of disability benefits, including temporary total disability or permanent disability benefits, may be available to an injured worker.

Social Security Disability is available through the Social Security Administration and provides financial assistance to workers who have suffered workplace injuries or illnesses that result in disability. The differences between the two types of benefits are that eligibility for workers' compensation benefits begins the day the worker begins work, while Social Security Disability benefits require work history.

Unlike SSD benefits, workers' compensation is only available for workplace-related injuries and illnesses. In addition, workers' compensation benefits are available for short-term and long-term disability, as well as partial and total disabilities. To receive SSD benefits, the disability must last longer than a year or be expected to result in death. There are some other types of distinctions between the two types of benefits, including the requirement that the applicant is unable to engage in their usual type of work or any gainful work to be eligible for SSD benefits.

Both programs, however, provide benefits to injured workers, and during the year 2002 Social Security paid almost twice the amount of cash benefits paid by worker's compensation for wage-replacement benefits. While both programs offer benefits and options to injured workers, it is helpful to understand the eligibility requirements for each and understand how to maximize badly-needed benefits for injured workers and their families.

Source: U.S. Social Security Administration Office of Policy, "Workers' Compensation, Social Security Disability Insurance, and the Offset: A Fact Sheet," Accessed July 27, 2015

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