In South Carolina, there are circumstances that will allow you to collect workers’ compensation and disability at the same time. However, workers’ compensation and disability benefits are two individual programs that have a different set of criteria, so you will need to meet each program’s requirements to receive both at the same time. Typically we recommend resolving your workers’ compensation case before addressing any Social Security Disability, but there may be instances where it makes sense to file at the same time. Read on to learn more about both workers’ compensation and disability to understand what may apply in your situation.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
According to the South Carolina Bar, if you get injured at work and cannot continue working, you can apply for workers’ compensation benefits. This may help you recover lost income and pay for the medical costs associated with the work-related injury. Workers’ compensation is generally a temporary program that provides benefits in the time it takes to recover from a work-related injury. These payments provide you with 66.67 percent of your average weekly pay, as stated by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
However, there are instances when a work injury is so severe you may not be able to return to work or continue working in your previous capacity. If you suffer a severe and permanent injury at work, such as paralysis or brain damage, you may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits. According to the SC Code § 42-9-10, if an injured worker is unable to continue working due to a permanently disabling condition acquired on the job, they may qualify for Permanent Total Disability. This type of compensation ensures the injured party receives payments for life on account of being impaired and losing their earning capacity.
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Social Security Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability (SSD) is a distinctly different program than workers’ compensation. Disability benefits provide payments to help support people who are or who become disabled and unable to work. There are situations where a work injury renders an individual unable to continue working. How much it affects one’s ability to work will determine the benefits available to them.
Two separate disability programs may apply to your situation. These are:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
To qualify for SSDI, you must have a qualifying disability that is proven, making you unable to work. Additionally, to qualify, you must have worked long enough to pay into the system to receive it.
SSI applies if you have a low income and have not worked enough to pay into the system to qualify for SSDI.
Disability benefits are determined based on a person’s ability to work full-time. If their permanent injury or work-related illness prevents them from working, they may be eligible for partial or total disability benefits. If your work-related injuries are temporary, you may qualify for workers’ compensation coverage but not SSD.
You May Be Able to Collect Workers’ Compensation and Disability Benefits at the Same Time
If you are injured at work and you suffer a permanent injury that will continue for at least the next 12 months, and most likely the rest of your lifetime, there is a possibility you may qualify to collect workers’ compensation and disability at the same time. However, the specifics of your case will play a role in how this is determined. You may also have to reimburse a portion of your workers’ compensation settlement to Medicare if you file for SSD during your workers’ compensation claim, so it is usually more beneficial to wait.
In South Carolina, it is often not possible to receive full SSD payments if you are collecting workers’ compensation. This is due to both programs being public benefits, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
In South Carolina, there are limits for individuals regarding how much benefits they may be able to collect. This is generally referred to as the workers’ compensation offset. It is calculated by ensuring the individual does not collect over 80 percent of their pre-injury income when both benefits are combined. If the individual is collecting Permanent Total Disability payments, they may expect their disability benefits to be reduced. Furthermore, there are times when SSD will not be applicable in these situations, often due to other sources of income being collected.
How to Know Which Benefits You Qualify to Collect
These issues are complicated. If you were permanently injured at work, you may be unsure how to proceed with filing claims to collect the compensation or benefits you qualify for. Before applying to these programs, you should understand each program’s general requirements, as there are situations where workers’ compensation may offset how much disability benefits you may be able to collect.
If you would like more information on these benefits programs, you can discuss your case with a law firm representative. A Hammack Law Firm team member can review your case and determine which compensation claims you may qualify for. We can help you apply for benefits or appeal if you were denied workers’ compensation or disability benefits. Contact our offices to speak to a legal professional today at 864-326-3333.
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