If you get hurt at work in Missouri, you are usually entitled to workers’ compensation. However, if you suffer a significant disability that makes it impossible for you to work after the accident, you may also become eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. While these benefits can help you get closer to your original wage rate, the eligibility requirements are strict.
What is SSDI?
Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal program run by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It provides disability benefits to cover wage loss for people who are unable to work because of an injury.
Importantly, SSDI is different from workers’ compensation in that the disabling injury did not have to happen on the job. You can be eligible for SSDI even if it was not a workplace injury. SSDI is also different in that the benefits you receive are based on your average earnings before the injury, not on the extent of your disability.
However, if you receive both workers’ compensation and SSDI, some of your benefits may be offset if you would get too much.
Eligibility for SSDI is Strict
Unfortunately, many workers in Missouri who get hurt on the job and suffer a disability struggle to get SSDI benefits. This is because you need to have both an eligible disability and an adequate work history to qualify.
The definition of “disability” is different for SSDI than it is for workers’ compensation. According to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505, there are three requirements that an injury has to meet for it to be deemed a “disability” under SSDI:
- It has to be a physical or mental impairment that keeps you from doing your job,
- It also has to keep you from doing any other type of substantial gainful work, and
- It has to last, or be expected to last, for at least one year.
This is very different from the four types of disabilities recognized by workers’ compensation law. As a result, many people receiving disability benefits through workers’ compensation may still be ineligible for disability benefits under SSDI.
Sufficient Work History
In addition to being “disabled,” you also must have a long enough work history to qualify for SSDI. The SSA calculates this by using “work credits.” You gain one work credit by earning at least a certain amount of money in a year. In 2022, that amount is $1,510. You can earn up to four work credits in a calendar year.
To be eligible for SSDI, you need enough work credits. The number you need is based on how old you were when you first became disabled.
If you were under the age of 24, you need at least six work credits in the three years before the disability started.
If you were between the ages of 24 and 30, you need enough work credits to cover half the time between when you turned 21 and first became disabled.
If you were over 31, you need to have at least 20 work credits from the 10 years right before the disability started.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
SSDI benefits can supplement your workers’ compensation and help you make ends meet. The legal representation of the personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at the Smith Law Office can help injured workers get these benefits for their disability. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373 for help in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, or the rest of western Missouri.