Many injured workers in Pennsylvania are not aware that they can apply for Social Security Disability (SSD), while still receiving workers’ comp benefits in PA. Though the two programs have different standards for what “disabled” means, and the injured worker may not be able to receive full benefits from both programs, there is no need to choose one or the other.
An injured worker qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania when he or she is disabled from work by an injury which took place in the scope and course of his or her employment. One qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits when one is disabled from all gainful employment, regardless of the cause of the disability. Many times, the workers’ comp claimant in PA qualifies for both, but is not aware they can receive both.
Between the two programs, a workers’ compensation claimant in Pennsylvania can only receive a certain percentage of their pre-injury earnings. Usually this amount will be more than the workers’ comp benefits alone. Plus, getting approved for SSD will lead to getting Medicare benefits, which can be a valuable resource. The Social Security Administration will withhold any SSD benefits a workers’ compensation claimant in Pennsylvania would otherwise be entitled to (the amount of SSD over that percentage of pre-injury earnings). There is no deduction from workers’ comp benefits in PA for SSD (contrary to Social Security Retirement benefits, for which the workers’ compensation insurance carrier gets a credit in Pennsylvania).
As with any potential benefit, a workers’ comp claimant in Pennsylvania should fully investigate whether applying for SSD benefits would be a good choice in their particular situation (in some cases, the injured worker may be better off not applying for SSD). This, as with any decision a workers’ comp claimant makes, should be discussed with an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer.