A Chicago Social Security attorney can help injured workers

Work-related injuries are a significant cause of disability in America, as any Chicago Social Security attorney knows firsthand. Some injuries result directly in disablement, while others contribute to gradual declines in functional ability. One report from the Office of Retirement and Disability Policy indicates that a workplace injury resulting in time lost from work doubles a person’s likelihood of needing Social Security Disability benefits during the following 15 years.

If a workplace injury causes prolonged disablement and prevents gainful employment, the victim may be eligible for SSD benefits. However, the workers’ compensation and SSD systems use very different criteria. Eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits does not ensure a worker will also qualify for SSD benefits.

Establishing disablement

Workers who collect workers’ compensation benefits for disablement resulting from a work-related injury may fail to qualify for SSD benefits for various reasons. As any Chicago Social Security attorney can attest, the Social Security Administration uses strict criteria to evaluate disability, including the following:

  • Duration of the injury — SSD benefits are only available for injuries expected to result in death or endure longer than 12 months. In Illinois, workers may collect Temporary Partial Disability or Temporary Total Disability benefits for disabling conditions expected to improve over shorter periods of time.
  • Ability to perform any work — the SSA only awards SSD benefits if a worker cannot reasonably perform any work on a gainful basis. In contrast, injured workers may receive workers’ compensation benefits if they cannot resume their previous work or perform it at full capacity.
  • Severity of the injury — the workers’ compensation system awards benefits for disfigurement, partial temporary disability and partial permanent disability. Social Security benefits only address conditions that result in total disablement.

It is crucial for workers seeking SSD benefits to provide adequate evidence to show they meet the SSA definition of disabled. Every Chicago Social Security attorney can explain that poor documentation of a medical condition and its impacts is a common reason for SSD claim denial.

Financial factors

Workers who prove they meet the relevant medical criteria must also meet financial requirements to qualify for SSD benefits. Workers must have paid enough in Social Security taxes, cumulatively and in recent years, to qualify for benefits. Additionally, workers cannot be engaging in any employment with income over $1,090, as this is considered “substantial gainful activity.”

Injured workers should also understand that other benefits, including workers’ compensation and public disability benefits, can affect SSD benefit entitlement. Cumulatively, these benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of an injured worker’s average wages prior to the injury. In many cases, SSD benefit payments may be reduced based on workers’ compensation benefits.