If you have been injured at work, workers’ compensation benefits can help you pay for medical care. In some situations, these benefits may provide you with income while you are unable to return to work, or to doing the kind of work you did before your injury. However, workers’ compensation benefits are usually limited in amount and time.
Those who are permanently unable to return to work may need benefits from a different program, Social Security Disability, to provide them with income.
However, Social Security Disability benefits are intended for people who are unable to work at all. If you have been injured at work, but are still able to do some work, you may fall somewhere in between the two programs.
This may be the case for some people who have lost their hearing due to their working conditions.
Connecticut workers’ compensation provides Permanent Partial Disability benefits for workers who have suffered permanent injury at work. The amount of the benefit is based on the workers’ salary before the injury and a doctor’s determination of the extent of the injury. For instance, a worker who has lost 50% of their hearing will receive a smaller percentage of their salary than a worker who lost 90% of their hearing. In either case, workers will receive a fraction of what they received before the injury
It’s important to remember that employers are required to give a reasonable accommodation to disabled employees. If you have lost your hearing, and you need your hearing in order to do your job, your employer may be required to change your duties in order to make sure that you can continue to work without your hearing.
Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability, or SSD, is a federal program run by the Social Security Administration. Unlike workers’ compensation, SSD provides benefits for people who were injured or suffer some other condition that is not related to their jobs. Instead, eligibility is based upon the applicant’s work history and whether they are no longer able to work.
Generally, if a person can earn a living by working in spite of their partial disability, they will not be eligible for SSD benefits.
Can you combine the two?
As you can see from the above, the two programs can sometimes seem to work against each other. Workers’ compensation benefits may tide you over, but they won’t completely replace your salary. And if you can still do some work — even if it’s lower-paying work than the type you used to do — you may not be eligible for Social Security Disability.
In some situations a worker can collect both workers’ compensation and SSD benefits. However, the total amount of benefits is reduced in these cases.
The bottom line
For workers who have lost their hearing, the lesson here is that they should be aware of their rights, an dthey may need to plan carefully for the type of benefits they receive.