If you can’t work because of an injury, medical condition, or mental health condition, you may be looking into options for government support and income. Depending on how you were injured, where you work, and what your condition is, you may have options. Workers’ compensation is a state-funded program that helps people who were injured at work. Disability on the other hand is a federally-funded part of Social Security, that may help you if you have a prolonged illness or other condition.
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is both an Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney and a Social Security Disability attorney. Ken may be able to help you decide which program (or programs) to apply to, help you with your applications, and appeal denied applications.
When Can I Get Workers’ Comp. and Disability?
Workers’ compensation is available to workers who were injured on the job, or because of the conditions of their job. Arkansas law requires every employer within the state (except the Federal government and some railroad workers) to have workers’ compensation insurance that will help pay for medical bills and provide wages to those who cannot work. To be eligible for workers’ compensation, you:
- Must work in Arkansas,
- Must work for an eligible employer (i.e. a non-federal or railroad employer with at least three employees),
- May not be an independent contractor or employer, and
- Must have suffered a “work-related” injury.
The key requirement is that your injury must be “work-related.” This includes on the job injuries, such as straining your back lifting a box off a truck. Your injury may be “work-related” even if it took years to develop. Many working conditions, such as fumes at a chemical plant, repetitive strain, or intense mental strain may take years to develop into a condition. These injuries and conditions may still be “work-related,” and qualify you for workers’ comp.
To qualify for Social Security Disability, you must satisfy the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) requirements. The SSA’s requirements to get disability can be simplified into 5 requirements:
- You must currently make less than $1,170 per month for 2017 (i.e. because your disability prevents you from working);
- Your condition must be severe enough to interfere with work-related tasks;
- Your condition must be listed in the SSA’s qualifying disorders, or must be at least as severe as one of those disorders;
- You must be unable to do the work you did previously; and
- You must be unable to adjust to other work.
The focus of disability is that you are in fact “disabled.” The SSA does not take into account whether your injury or condition is work-related or not. Their focus is that the injury is severe enough to prevent work, and is likely to last more than a year or lead to death.
What Benefits are Covered? Workers’ Compensation vs. Disability
The benefits of workers’ comp. and disability are similar. The ultimate effect of each is supplying those who are can’t work with a living wage. However, the way that each system achieves that goal is a bit different.
With workers’ compensation, you may be entitled to medical expenses and wages. Workers’ comp. emerged as an alternative to having injured workers sue their employers for damages. Through a lawsuit, injured workers must prove the employer was at-fault for the injury, and may receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Under workers’ compensation, they do not need to prove the employer’s fault, and can still receive medical expenses and lost wages.
However, there may be limits on workers’ comp. benefits. First, you may need to use a doctor your employer of their insurance company chooses. This means you may not be able to use your doctor of choice. Second, you may only receive around two-thirds of your wage under workers’ compensation, rather than your full paycheck. Lastly, pain and suffering damages are usually unavailable.
With Social Security Disability, you may be entitled to income only. Medicare and other federal plans may pay for healthcare and treatment, but the primary goal of disability is to provide you with a paycheck.
Luckily for Arkansans, you often do not need to choose between the two programs. As long as you meet the requirements for each system, you can apply to both workers’ comp. and Social Security Disability. While you may face some deductions for receiving both plans, you can still use disability to supplement workers’ comp.
Arkansas Social Security and Workers’ Comp Attorney
Fayetteville workers’ comp. and Social Security attorney Ken Kieklak works out of Fayetteville, Arkansas to help injured Arkansans. Whether you were injured at work or outside of work, or are suffering from a disabling condition, talk to an attorney today. You may qualify for benefits from the state or federal government – or both. For a free consultation on your case, call (479) 439-1843 today for a free consultation on your applications.