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Social Security still available after worker's comp

Many residents of San Diego first start considering their eligibility for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits after they suffer a life-altering injury in a work accident. After all, it usually does not take too long for the victim to realize that she will need to find another source of income so she can support herself and her family.

In most cases, after a workplace accident, the victim will also be able to get benefits through California's workers' compensation program. However, these payments, helpful though they are, will not always cover all of an injured worker's losses. In cases in which the worker is permanently disabled, workers' compensation benefits may fall well short of meeting the worker's financial needs.

The good news is that injured workers may still apply for SSD benefits, even if they are also receiving workers' compensation. But, they must still qualify for these benefits by, among other things, proving that they are legally disabled.

Additionally, the law caps the dollar value of benefits that a person can receive from Social Security if he is also drawing workers' compensation. Specifically, the combined payment from workers' compensation and Social Security cannot exceed 80 percent of what the worker was receiving in gross wages before the accident.

So, for example, if a person was making $3,000 a month in wages, and is getting $2,000 in workers' compensation benefits for lost wages, then the most she can draw from Social Security is $400 a month, since 80 percent of $3,000 is $2,400. On the other hand, should the workers' compensation payments stop, then the worker can collect up to $2,400 from Social Security, provided she is otherwise eligible.

The bottom line is that pursuing workers compensation and Social Security is not an either-or proposition. Victims of serious work-related accident may want to consider speaking to an experienced attorney about all of their options.

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