The Difference Between Workers' Comp and Disability Benefits


Posted by: Chris

When you are injured on the job in Oklahoma and unable to work, you could be entitled to some type of financial support, either through workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Types of financial support for injured workers

There are several types of workers’ compensation benefits available to injured workers in Oklahoma, including:

  • Medical benefits
  • Temporary disability benefits
  • Permanent disability benefits
  • Vocational retraining benefits
  • Death benefits

Medical benefits cover medical expenses that were incurred as a result of a work-related injury; temporary and permanent disability benefits cover the injured worker’s lost wages. If a worker is unable to return to his or her pre-injury job, vocational retraining benefits can help teach new skills so the worker can find other employment. Death benefits are awarded to the family of an employee who suffers a fatal work-related injury.  

SSDI benefits can be awarded to any disabled individual, regardless of their income. But in addition to being disabled, an applicant must also have worked long enough to contribute a significant amount of money through Social Security taxes. To determine if you have worked long enough to qualify, your income is converted into  “work credits.” The number of credits that you need to receive SSDI benefits will vary depending on your age, so it’s best to speak with an attorney to see if you qualify.

SSI is a needs-based program that only provides benefits to low-income people who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65. If you do not have limited resources, then you will not qualify for this program, even if you are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65.

Key differences between injured worker programs

Workers’ compensation is paid by an employer’s insurance while disability benefits are paid by the federal government.

In general, workers’ compensation benefits last longer. Disability benefits may be temporary until an injured worker reaches maximum medical improvement. Private short- or long-term benefits are only available for a maximum of 26 to 52 weeks.

Workers’ compensation benefits may continue after returning to work, while SSDI and private benefits halt upon a return to work.

Workers’ compensation benefits are not taxable as income, while disability benefits are subject to income tax.

Workers’ compensation benefits start immediately upon an injury or illness. SSDI benefits have a lengthy application process and can take much longer to receive since a majority of SSDI benefit claims will be denied and appealed.

If you have been injured at work, contact the attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Our experienced attorneys will aggressively negotiate with the insurance company to ensure you are awarded the workers’ compensation or disability benefits you deserve. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.