If I Was Injured on the Job and am Receiving Workers’ Compensation, Can I Still File a Claim for Disability Benefits in PA?

If you were injured at work in Pennsylvania, you likely filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Workman’s comp can provide financial support – but will it interfere with your eligibility for other types of benefits, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)? In this article, the long term disability lawyers of Young, Marr & Associates explain whether you can file a claim for disability benefits if you’re already receiving workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania. For more information about disability benefits in Pennsylvania, contact our law offices for a free legal consultation.

Can I Apply for Disability While on Workers’ Comp in Pennsylvania?

The short and simple answer to this question is yes: you can apply to receive disability benefits even if you are already receiving workers’ compensation payments. While both provide financial benefits to Pennsylvanians with disabilities, they are completely separate programs whose application processes do not intersect.

Workers’ compensation benefits are administered at the state level, under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. By comparison, disability benefits are handled by the Social Security Administration (SSA), which is an agency of the federal government. For this reason, disability benefits are sometimes called “Social Security benefits.”

It’s important to keep in mind that, since workers’ compensation and disability benefits are provided through separate programs, they also have different eligibility requirements. That means you could quality for disability benefits but not workers’ compensation, or vice versa. For example, in order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have been disabled for at least 12 months, or the condition must be expected to result in death. Workers’ compensation does not have these criteria, which could cause you to qualify for workers’ comp but not SSDI.

However, if your disability claim was denied, don’t panic. It is extremely common for SSDI claims to be rejected, and the experienced disability attorneys of Young, Marr & Associates are here to help you dispute, or “appeal,” the initial decision. Disability denials are some of the most common issues we handle. Even if your claim was denied at the outset of the application process, it may be possible to get approved upon the various stages of appeal, which include reconsideration (depending on your state), Appeals Council review, and in rare cases, going to federal court.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Affect Disability Benefits?

Applying for workers’ comp does not affect your right to apply for disability in Pennsylvania. However, it’s extremely important to be aware that if both claims are accepted, your workers’ compensation payments may reduce your disability payments.

To determine whether your disability benefits should be reduced, the SSA first looks at your monthly SSDI benefit. (Note that in 2018, the maximum monthly amount for a person who retired at the full retirement age is $2,788, though the average SSDI payment is closer to roughly $1,200.) Next, the SSA adds that number to the amount you are receiving from workers’ compensation. If your combined workers’ compensation benefits and disability benefits surpass 80% of your “average current earnings,” the SSA will subtract the surplus from your SSDI payments.

The SSA uses several different methods for determining your average current earnings. The SSA selects which method it will use on a case-by-case basis – which only adds to the stress for disability applicants. However, the SSA must provide information about which methods it used to calculate your benefit reduction when requested.

A disability lawyer from Young, Marr & Associates can make sure that you are treated fairly, and can help you take action if the SSA improperly reduces your benefits or makes errors when evaluating your income. You should notify us immediately if your benefits are cut off, or if you receive a notice indicating that your benefits will be reduced in the future.

Workers’ compensation benefits are considered public benefits, because they are administered by the government (as opposed to a private pension or insurance plan). However, there are other types of public benefits which will not impact your disability benefits. These benefits include:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
  • Veterans Administration (VA) benefits

Philadelphia Disability Attorneys Can Help File Your SSDI Claim

Disability benefits can provide the financial support you need while you’re dealing with a serious medical condition. Unfortunately, due to the SSA’s complicated filing rules, most applicants have poor odds of being approved – at least initially.

Working with an experienced SSDI attorney can help tilt the odds in your favor, making the application process smoother, faster, and easier. For a free consultation with an experienced disability lawyer serving Philadelphia and southeast Pennsylvania, contact Young, Marr & Associates online, or call us today at (215) 515-2954.