Usually, when a worker gets hurt on the job, they apply for workers’ compensation benefits. After all, workers’ compensation exists just to protect employed adults against financial losses from medical conditions acquired because of their work.
However, some people hurt at work may eventually require Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. SSDI benefits can help those who have to take a year or longer off of work for their recovery or who can never work again because of a workplace injury.
There are many scenarios in which an injured worker might need SSDI benefits to help them provide for themselves and their family members after an injury on the job. When may a worker apply for SSDI rather than workers’ compensation?
When they don’t qualify for workers’ compensation
Although employers do have to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover all of their employees, the same is not true for independent contractors. If the company had you fill out a 1099 rather than a W-2 when they hired you, your classification as an independent contractor might prevent you from making a workers’ compensation claim.
Sometimes, injured workers can contest their classification. Other times, they need to look for other resources after a disabling injury, like SSDI.
When they suffer a severe, permanent injury
Someone who breaks a bone on the job probably won’t need SSDI because they would be back to work before they ever qualify for benefits. However, those who suffer more significant injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, back injuries or brain injuries may have a permanent disability that qualifies them for benefits.
When the injury is serious enough that it will last for life, a worker may qualify for SSDI based on an injury that occurred on the job.
When workers’ compensation leaves too much of an income gap
Unlike unemployment, which generally precludes someone from claiming SSDI benefits, people can qualify for SSDI while receiving workers’ compensation. In fact, applying for benefits may be necessary if someone’s workers’ compensation benefits are low enough that they cannot cover their necessary household expenses every month.
Recognizing whether your circumstances might allow you to qualify for SSDI can help you get the support you need when a work injury results in lifelong consequences.