Most California employees are likely aware of their rights to claim workers' compensation benefits if they suffer injuries that prevent them from returning to work. However, they might have questions about disability benefits. There are two types of disability programs -- state disability benefits and federal benefits known as Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI.
The state disability program typically provides benefits for individuals whose disabilities were typically caused by accidents not related to employment. California workers may be awarded state disability benefits if their employers dispute or deny workers' compensation benefits. However, if such a dispute is resolved and workers' compensation benefits are subsequently paid, the worker may have to refund the benefits that were paid by the state.
When it comes to Social Security Disability Insurance, it might be possible to receive SSDI and workers' compensation at the same time. If a worker is expected to be unable to return to work for one year or longer, he or she may seek SSDI benefits. However, it will only be awarded if the workers' compensation benefits equal less than 80 percent of the worker's average wage at the time he or she suffered the injury. SSDI may then decide to pay benefits to bring the injured worker's income up to that percentage.
A California attorney who deals with both SSDI and workers' compensation can answer questions an injured employee might have. Although these programs aim to ease the financial burden of disabled workers, they also are focused on the individual recovering and returning to work. A lawyer can explain the available options for financial relief and assist with the navigation of the benefits claims for which the worker qualifies.
Source: FindLaw, "Workers' Comp or Disability for Workplace Injuries?", Brett Snider, Accessed on March 16, 2018