You have been injured on the job and you are now being told that you will not be able to return to the work you have been performing. What happens now? Where do you turn, should you apply for Social Security Disability benefits? How will Workers’ Compensation treat your permanent disability?
Social Security Disability benefits are a federal program that one may turn to if they suffer a severe disability, illness or condition that prevents gainful employment. According to the US Social Security Administration, state workers’ compensation programs provide approximately $60 billion each year in financial and medical-care benefits to work-related illnesses and injuries. Social Security is also the nation’s largest disability insurance program, and each state has its own policies, for example, there are 13 states that tax social security — New York State does not carry a tax on social security.
To apply, you should be out of work for at least a minimum of 5 months with the expectation that you will continue to be out of work for 12 months, if not longer. You can apply for ongoing benefits into the future based on your inability to return to work or also seek a closed period of benefits should you be able to return to work after a 12 month duration.
To be clear, there is a difference between Workers’ Compensation and Social Security. Social Security is meant for workers who are severely impaired and cannot return to their previous work, and prohibits the worker from adjusting to other means of employment. Workers’ Compensation is for those who suffered a work-related accident while performing their normal course of job duties.
There are two major permanent disability classifications in Workers’ Compensation — temporary disability and permanent disability. When you are classified as having a permanent disability under Workers’ Compensation, further inquiry must be made into the type of permanent injury that you have.
Usually, if your injury involves an extremity, such as an arm, leg, hand, etc., you will be found to have a Schedule Loss of Use based on the permanent functional limitations opined by the treating physician. Based on the medical evidence, you will be awarded a Schedule Loss of Use award (“SLU”) which means a lump sum of money based on the degree of permanent disability you are found to have. Please note that there are exceptions where you may be found to have a permanent disability even if an extremity was involved. This would entitle you to ongoing permanent disability payments as explained further below.
Permanent disability payments are typically for all other injuries that do not involve your extremities, such as to your back. When you are found to have a permanent disability with ongoing future loss of wage payments an ongoing award will be made. There are additional vocational factors that will be taken into account, such as your age, education, past relevant work, residual functional capacity and ability to transfer into a lesser demanding type of work given what you functionally can do.
From here, temporary and permanent each include total and partial disability that will be determined by your health care provider and explain the amount of benefits you will receive. It is very important to treat with a physician who understands Workers’ Compensation as the amount of your benefits are highly dependent on your physicians opinion of the degree of disability that you have, whether it be temporary or permanent.
It is also important to remember that any costs related to the work-related injury that has ultimately caused a level of disability, including surgeries and medications, should be covered by your employer.
If you feel that you aren’t receiving the proper financial support, contact us so we can look into your situation and offer you the assistance you deserve. Take some time and review some of our verdicts & settlements related to social security claims here.
About Losi & Gangi
The law firm of Losi & Gangi is a general partnership of attorneys concentrating the majority of their practice on workers’ compensation matters and personal injury law.
The firm consists of partners David Paul Losi, Jeffery D. Gangi and Harry G. Modeas, with associate attorney Thorice M. Jacobs. In addition to our attorneys, the firm also employs a licensed workers’ compensation representative, Jay P. Boardway