Even though you have sustained a work-related injury, your employer may suggest that you apply for disability benefits (sickness and accident/short-term disability) or unemployment benefits (if your physician has placed work restrictions on you instead of applying for workers’ compensation benefits). While this course of action would benefit your employer, it is not in your best interest. Workers’ compensation benefits are better than other benefits for many reasons:
- Workers’ Compensation benefits are tax fee–whereas disability and unemployment benefits are subject to income tax.
- Workers’ Compensation benefits are usually much higher than other benefits.
- Workers’ Compensation benefits last much longer than other benefits. Both short-term and unemployment benefits usually are only paid for a maximum of 26 weeks, and in some cases less.
- Workers’ Compensation benefits continue to be paid at a partial rate after you return to work, if you return to work at a lower pay rate because of your injury. Disability coverage may not provide for partial payments after you return to work.
- Workers’ Compensation pays for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses for the work-related injury or disease, with no limitation and no deductible. Medical bill payments under group health plans are limited; in most cases you have a deductible and will have to pay those medical expenses not covered by your group plan.
If your employer denies your workers’ compensation claim, you may apply for other benefits, including medical benefits which may be available to you. The receipt of those benefits will not prevent you from filing a workers’ compensation claim. It is important, however, when completing the application for benefits that you attach a copy of the Notice of Denial, and you should indicate on any paperwork that the injury is work-related, or leave that question blank.
If your work injury was caused by a third party, you may have a legal claim. For example, if in the course of your job duties you were injured in a car accident, you may have a legal claim and may be able to seek compensation from insurance providers. In general, however, you cannot pursue a legal claim against your employer in cases of a work injury, even if your injuries were caused by negligence.
In general, you will want to seek workers’ compensation benefits first. If your employer delays or denies your claim, you may wish to seek alternative benefits so you have ways to pay your bills. Depending on your situation, you may be able to secure social security disability benefits (SSD) or social security retirement (SSR), unemployment benefits or social security supplemental income benefits (SSI) in addition to workers’ compensation. This is not always the case, and your benefits will be offset so you do not exceed certain limits. If you are a high wage earner, the maximum benefit for wage benefits may be a concern.
Read more about workers’ compensation.
Before you apply for any benefits other than workers’ compensation or if you are facing challenges in getting your rightful benefits, schedule a free consultation with KBG Injury Law. Our certified workers’ compensation experts can help you understand your best courses of action.