Areas of Law > Workers' Compensation

How do Workers' Compensation and Social Security Work Together

Many injured workers who are receiving workers' compensation benefits often ask whether they can also apply for Social Security Disability Benefits. So long as you meet certain guidelines concerning "quarters of coverage," that is, periods you have worked and earned wages from which the FICA or Social Security tax was deducted, you may be able to apply for and receive Social Security Disability Benefits. We can usually determine whether you have the necessary quarters of coverage based upon the last date you worked, and whether you worked steadily prior to your injury. If you meet other guidelines, we can and will evaluate the earnings issue.

The ability to receive Social Security benefits does not rely solely on the work injury which you suffered, although your disability status as a result of that injury is certainly very important. If you are considered to be totally disabled by your treating doctor as a result of your work injury, then you may meet Social Security's criteria, which requires total disability. However, unlike workers' compensation, Social Security does not look only at your work injury. Rather, Social Security looks at your complete medical picture in order to determine whether an individual with your condition(s) can work in this economy.

The ability to work "in the economy" as opposed to merely at your old job or in a light duty capacity for your old employer is the difference between what Social Security requires us to prove and what workers' compensation requires. For example, your work injury may make it impossible for you to work a heavy duty job and in a smoky environment, disabling you from your regular employment. Social Security would not consider you to be disabled, however, because you could possibly perform sedentary or light duty work. However, if you have other conditions which make it impossible for you to concentrate on tasks for any length of time, or if you need to lie down several times during a day, these can be considered by Social Security in determining if you can work "in the economy," even though these result from non-work-related conditions and would not be relevant in a workers' compensation case. Therefore, potentially you could be released to light duty work as a result of your work injury and considered employable in the worker's compensation system, but suffer from depression and a non-work-related heart condition which make you "totally disabled" for Social Security purposes.

In order to evaluate your potential Social Security claim, we will discuss all of the medical conditions which you have and the limitations that arise from those condition(s). Even if we have settled your workers' compensation case, you may still be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits, depending on when you last worked for wages. Social Security and Workers' Compensation can work together for an injured employee. Please call us and let us evaluate whether it can work for you.

Representing the working men and women of Pennsylvania since 1981