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How do SSDI and worker's compensation interact in New Jersey?

Many of the disabilities that end up requiring people to apply for Social Security Disability benefits are the result of some injury that they suffered while they were working. Problems as diverse as head trauma, back pain and carpel tunnel syndrome can occur on the job and affect a person's ability to subsequently engage in substantial gainful activity. There are a couple of government programs that attempt to help those who suffer these events, and the two largest are SSDI and workers' compensation. There are some interactions that applicants for SSDI should be aware of.

First, worker's compensation generally begins covering employees on the very first day they begin work, as long as the employer is large enough to require the program to apply. SSDI, on the other hand, is only available to those who have built up a substantial enough work history to be covered by the insurance. However, a good portion of workers' compensation cases are medical-only; that is, they cover the worker's medical expenses, but do not replace lost wages. SSDI, on the other hand, offers a steady check that can be used in lieu of a salary, in part, for those who meet the requirements. Of course, above and beyond the requirement to have worked enough to be eligible, SSDI also requires that the injury has caused a disability lasting, or expected to last, longer than a year, making SSDI a much more difficult benefit for which to qualify.

The other important thing for people applying for Social Security Disability due to injuries suffered on the job is that the programs interact through an "off-set" as well. That is, under federal law, there is a limit to how much combined workers' compensation and SSDI benefits a given individual may receive. This amount is generally limited to 80 percent of the employee's prior average earnings from work. Which benefit is reduced is dependent upon specific circumstances, but people receiving SSDI for a work-related injury should understand that if they are also receiving workers' compensation, then there will be a cap.

Injuries on the job are a relatively common occurrence in the United States, which is why the government has set up a safety net for those who find themselves in this situation. However, as with many governmental programs, the interaction can be difficult to understand. Those applying for SSDI based upon injury may wish to consider getting more information about their own unique circumstances.

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