Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability – A very common concern when someone is disabled and has restrictions is if they should apply for disability, it’s a frequent question we get from our injured clients, but before answering, we need to know what kind of disability we’re talking about.
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability
What are the types of disabilities under Workers’ Compensation?
In Workers’ Compensation there are 3 kinds of disability, and they each have 3 different factors that define if you’re injured under that law.
The first one is when you have restrictions due to your work injury and you’re treating it hoping to get better, and it’s called temporary total disability, or temporary partial disability if you’re back at work, and it means that the doctor gave you restrictions so there are certain things you can’t do, like lift more than 10 pounds or walk more than 5 minutes.
If those restrictions impair your ability to do the job you were doing before you were injured with that particular employer, you’re entitled to lost wage benefits under Workers’ Compensation in the case you lost time from work.
The second type of disability is called permanent partial disability, but it has nothing to do whether or not you’re disabled, or whether or not you have restrictions, it’s based purely upon loss of range of motion and other aspects of your treatment like what kind of surgeries did you get. We have a lot of clients who may not have any restrictions who still get permanent partial disability.
The third type of disability is called permanent total disability, and that’s wage loss after MMI. For this you have to show that you can’t earn any wages at any position with any employer anywhere.
What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability is a federal law, a federal program, you pay into it and your employer pays into it as well, you can see it in your paycheck as a tax, you pay part of it and your employer matches it, and that covers you for 3 things potentially.
Number one if you work and you get to your retirement age you’re entitled to monthly payments, it’s a kind of pension program and you get social security benefits for your retirement.
Number two, if you die and you leave children, your children can get your social security benefits until they reach the age of 18 or graduate from high school.
And number three, if you become disabled you can get Social Security Disability. It’s a different system and it’s a different law, and in order to get Social Security Disability you have to meet the federal government’s definition of disability.
What is “disability” for the federal government?
That definition is roughly that, as a result of medical impairments you can no longer do the work you used to do, or you cannot do any other work for which you are qualified and capable of doing that exists in what’s called significant numbers of the United States economy, and you can’t do it on a significant basis, it’s called SGA, Significant Gainful Activity.
To explain it, let’s pretend you are a cashier and you have restrictions, you can only work 2 hours a day, 3 days a week, because you’ll need to lay down. You could actually work, but you won’t be able to earn more than about $1,200 a month. If you can do that work but you can’t make more than $1,200 a month, you will still be considered disabled under Social Security’s rules.
How do Workers’ Compensation and Social Security interplay?
In Colorado, if you get Social Security Disability and you’re getting wage loss under Workers’ Compensation, the insurance carrier for your employer gets to reduce what you get for Workers’ Compensation.
For example, if you get $2,400 a month from Workers’ Compensation and you also get $1,200 a month from Social Security, they can reduce half of what you get from Social Security, so it would be reduced by $600, and you would only get $1,800 from Workers’ Compensation.
Together you would receive $3,000 a month, which is better than if you were only getting Workers’ Compensation. The employer has this benefit because in Social Security you pay half the tax and they pay the other half, so they can reduce it.
For that reason, it can matter when you apply for Social Security Disability, and it’s a long process which more often than not takes years to get approved.
We’re here to help
Cases can be very complicated, and that’s why it’s so important for you to find the best attorney in your situation. If you or your loved ones have been injured on the job in Colorado, we can help you. Call or text us at 970-356-98-98, all of our consultations are free and confidential.
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