Workers’ compensation programs developed to respond to the concerns of a worker becoming sick or injured because of their job. Arkansas provides a workers’ comp. system administered by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC). The federal government runs the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD, SSDI, or DI) program. Social Security Disability is an insurance program for workers who cannot continue working due to injury or illness. Fayetteville AR disability lawyer, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law can answer your questions regarding SSD and workers’ comp in Fayetteville, Arkansas and handle your claims from start to finish.
Am I Eligible for Both Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability?
If you suffer from a work-related injury or illness, you may think that you have to choose between workers’ comp. and Social Security disability. Often times, people are not sure which program to apply to nor which one is better for their situation.
Many workers who are eligible for Social Security disability benefits may also be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits at the same time. However, it is also important to understand that you cannot receive full benefits from both at the same time.
If you apply for Workers’ Compensation and SSD together, you will still receive about the same amount. Instead of receiving workers’ comp, then getting disability payments on top of that, Social Security payments are reduced in relation to what you receive from workers’ comp. Basically, Social Security will not pay you twice, and lets the state workers’ comp. program pay you first.
What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program administered by the federal government. It pays you monthly income if you become disabled before retirement age and cannot work. This is sometimes called “workers disability,” as contrasted with “Workers’ Compensation.”
To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked a certain number of years, first. During those years, you need to have paid Social Security taxes (“FICA” taxes). When you do that, you earn up to four “work credits” each year of work. The number of credits you need to apply for a claim depends on your age when you apply, but you will never need more than 40 credits to apply for Social Security.
The usual questions people have about SSDI and SSI disability benefits are about when the benefits will start and how much the monthly payments will be. The amount of disability you will collect depends on the program you qualify for and the date you apply. The monthly benefit for a Social Security disability recipient depends on prior earnings: how much and how long you worked and paid into the Social Security system. The most you can receive in 2016 is $2,639, but the average monthly payment is $1,666.
Workers’ Compensation and Disability Differences
Workers’ Compensation benefits are payments when you are injured at work or suffer from a work-related illness. The state of Arkansas provides a Workers’ Compensation system through the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC). Arkansas requires employers with three or more employees to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance to cover injured employees. These state disability benefits provide workers with weekly payments to support injured workers.
The main difference between disability and workers’ comp is the goal. Workers’ comp replaces the old system where employees would sue employers for on-the-job injuries. This helps them get compensation for injuries without a lengthy legal battle. Disability is, instead, a no-fault safety net to help people with serious conditions, whether or not they are work-related. Despite the differences, both programs help compensate you to make sure that you can continue to support yourself and family, financially.
Many Workers’ Compensation claimants will settle their cases before a hearing or trial. Most see this route as being more effective than going through a potentially lengthy litigation process. However, a skilled attorney with experience in Workers’ Compensation may be able to help you expedite the process.
While a large payment made right away may seem attractive, taking a lump payment usually means losing any other workers’ comp. payment opportunities. In those cases, Social Security may still provide you with monthly payments according to the rules for “offset” discussed below. A Fayetteville AR Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help you get justice.
Getting Workers’ Comp. and Social Security at the Same Time
Because Social Security will not pay for what workers’ comp already covers, your Social Security payments are reduced by what workers’ comp pays you. This is called an “offset,” and has a special formula the Social Security Administration uses.
To calculate the amount of offset a particular recipient may receive, the Social Security Administration (SSA) first determines what it calls the “applicable limit,” or the maximum, combined limit that the recipient is allowed to get under federal law. Generally, the SSA caps Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits at 80% the amount the person was paid before their disability.
When a person who has filed a claim receives more money in a month than the limit, Social Security reduces SSDI payments to keep the total under the limit. Worker’s compensation offsets of SSDI are fairly common for those workers who earned lower incomes when they were working. This is because their limits are lower, and worker’s compensation often puts them over their limit.
Worker’s compensation programs vary from state to state, and each state has different rules about the maximum amount Workers’ Compensation can pay. Since Social Security Disability is a national program, they need to be able to work with every workers’ comp. program in the country.
If you have doubts that you are getting the full amount you are entitled to, take your case to a workers’ comp. and Social Security attorney. An experienced Social Security disability attorney like Ken Kieklak can help make sure workers’ comp. and Social Security are paying you everything you are entitled to.
Arkansas Workers’ Comp and Social Security Attorney
For more than 20 years Ken Kieklak has fought for hard-working Arkansans. For your free and confidential consultation, call (479) 316-0438 or contact our experienced Arkansas Social Security attorney online.
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