What is the Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Disability in Ohio?
Many workers in Ohio who suffer job-related injuries and illnesses qualify for benefits. These benefits are generally available on a “no-fault” basis, which means that you can file a claim even if your employer isn’t responsible—and even if you accidentally injured yourself on the job.
But if you’ve been injured on the job, what type of benefits are you eligible to receive? Should you file a workers’ compensation claim? Should you file for disability? Should you do both?
Understanding What it Means to Receive “Disability” Benefits
To understand your options, it is first necessary to understand the term “disability.” Many people have misconceptions about what it means to file for disability, and there is a good reason why.
“Disability” can mean different things in different circumstances.
Broadly speaking, disability benefits for injured workers fall into two categories: (i) disability benefits available through workers’ compensation; and (ii) disability benefits available from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). Depending on when and where you got injured, how long you’ve been working, and a handful of other factors, you may qualify for one or both types of disability benefits.
1. Disability Benefits Available Through Workers’ Compensation
In Ohio, you can qualify for workers’ compensation disability benefits if you suffer a job-related injury or illness that prevents you from working. You can also qualify for “partial” disability benefits if your injury or illness restricts you to working in a limited capacity. To qualify for workers’ compensation disability benefits, you must generally be able to show that:
- You are an employee (as opposed to an independent contractor);
- You suffered your injury or illness on the job and within the scope of your employment; and,
- You have not waited too long to report your injury or file a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation disability benefits serve as a replacement for a portion of your lost wages (though, unlike your lost wages, workers’ compensation disability benefits are generally tax-free). The amount you can collect depends on your income and your injury’s or illness’s effects—among other factors.
To further complicate matters, there are four types of workers’ compensation disability benefits available under Ohio law. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may be eligible to receive:
- Wage Loss Benefits – Wage loss benefits are available to employees who are only to work in a limited capacity or on a part-time basis due to their job-related injuries and illnesses. They are also commonly referred to as temporary partial disability benefits.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits – If you qualify for workers’ compensation and you are completely unable to work due to your injury or illness, then you may be entitled to collect temporary total disability benefits while you are off the job.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits – If your doctor determines that you will never be able to resume your prior job duties and will need to continue working in a limited capacity, then your wage loss benefits may transition to permanent partial disability benefits.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits – If your doctor determines that you will never be able to work again in any capacity, then you may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits through workers’ compensation.
If you are eligible for workers’ compensation in Ohio, an experienced local lawyer can help you determine which type (or types) of disability benefits you are entitled to receive. Your lawyer can also calculate your benefits for you and fight to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve. In some cases, negotiating a lump-sum settlement that allows you to collect your disability benefits all at once may be your best option, and your lawyer can help you decide if this is an option you should pursue as well.
2. Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Along with workers’ compensation disability benefits, the other main type of disability benefits available to injured workers in Ohio are benefits paid by the SSA. The SSA pays two types of disability benefits to qualifying workers: Social Security disability (SSD) and supplemental security income (SSI).
Unlike workers’ compensation, you do not need to suffer a job-related injury or illness in order to qualify for SSD or SSI. However, you must meet other eligibility criteria that do not apply under Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. For example, to qualify for SSD, you must have earned enough Social Security “credits” through your employment history, and you must have a medical condition that qualifies as a “disability” for Social Security purposes.
Which Disability Claim (or Claims) Should You File?
So, which type of disability claim (or types of disability claims) should you file? The answer depends on your individual circumstances. For example, if you got injured or sick on the job and you are an eligible employee, you will definitely want to hire a lawyer to help you file for workers’ compensation disability benefits. On the other hand, if your injury or illness isn’t work-related, then filing for SSD and/or SSI may be your only option (if you qualify).
Many injured workers will qualify for disability benefits through workers’ compensation and from the SSA. It is possible to collect both types of benefits—though workers’ compensation disability will offset SSD disability payments in some cases. Ultimately, you need to choose the path that maximizes your ability to get the treatment you need while maintaining your financial stability, and the best way to make this choice is by discussing your situation with a local lawyer as soon as possible.
Discuss Your Legal Rights with a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free
Do you need to know more about filing for disability benefits after getting injured on the job in Ohio? If so, we invite you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We represent injured and sick workers statewide. To speak with a lawyer in our Columbus, OH law offices in confidence as soon as possible, give us a call at 888-444-7440 or request a free consultation online today.