Can an Injured Worker Recieve Both Social Security and Workers' Compensation?
It is not uncommon for an injured worker who is struggling with a workers' compensation claim to apply for Social Security disability benefits. There are a lot of advantages to this strategy. For one thing, there is no guarantee that the workers' compensation claim is going to be successful. Additionally, Social Security is almost always going to be a better long-term solution. However, some of my clients and potential clients are concerned that, if they pursue both types of benefits at the same time, it may create problems for one (or both) claims.
The good news is that no penalty attaches, either in Texas workers' compensation law or in the Social Security program, for making a Social Security disability application while pursuing a workers' compensation claim. Workers' compensation is awarded because the worker is disabled (unable to earn money as they did before their injury) or permanently impaired (as demonstrated through an impairment examination). If an individual's disability or impairment is severe enough to take them off work for purposes of workers' compensation, it is possible that it is also severe enough to allow the worker to qualify for Social Security.
My experience has been that some injured workers who appear to have very serious injuries often have trouble coming to grips with (a) the fact that - even if they get a good medical outcome - they may not be able to go back to work at the end of their workers' compensation process and (b) the fact that their workers' compensation claim may not go as well as it ought to go. These two factors cause the worker to invest all their time and energy in the workers' compensation claim. And while there is nothing wrong with aggressively pursuing such a claim (after all, that is what I do for workers on a day-to-day basis), it may not be in their best interest to pursue it to the exclusion of all other options.
Social Security disability can be a better, longer-term solution to a workers' problems, and should always be considered when an injury may keep an individual off work for more than a handful of months.
It is important to remember, however, that Social Security may be temporarily reduced as a result of benefits that are received under the Texas workers' compensation program. The Social Security program imposes a disability benefit offset for many/most workers who are also on workers' compensation at the same time they qualify for Social Security disability benefits. As such, the total amount of benefits that you receive may not necessarily be doubled by applying for Social Security. However, once your workers' compensation benefits end (as they will in almost all cases), Social Security will begin to pay the full amount of your benefit, and it will continue on as long as you are disabled.