Disability vs. Workers Compensation: Is There a Difference?

Some people get confused when they’re talking about workers’ compensation and disability. All they know is that you can only collect benefits if you’ve been hurt. However, not only are disability and workers’ compensation completely different things but they aren’t even paid out by the same place.

Our injury attorneys in Atlanta have clients ask what the difference is all the time. We figured it would be a good idea to explain the issue to everybody.

What Is Workers Compensation and Who Does it Cover?

Workers’ compensation is the system that provides benefits to employees who are hurt on the job. It is only designed to help people who were hurt while they were on the clock. It isn’t for people who can’t work due to a car accident or slip and fall. It is not meant to provide benefits to people who have never been able to work.

Not all workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In Georgia, the following groups of workers are not covered by workers’ comp:

  • Agricultural workers
  • Railroad employees
  • Federal workers
  • Domestic servants/Nannies
  • Independent contractors

As long as you don’t fall into any of these categories, you’re at least eligible to apply for workers’ compensation. That doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get benefits. It simply means you’re allowed to file a workers’ compensation claim.

What Benefits Can Your Georgia Personal Injury Attorney Get You Under Workers Comp?

If your workers’ comp claim is approved, you’ll receive certain benefits. These benefits are only extended to injuries sustained in workplace accidents. For example, if you already had a bad back and hurt your knee at work, your employer’s insurance won’t pay for treatment for your back.

The benefits you’re entitled to include the following:

  • Medical benefits for any injuries caused by your workplace accident
  • Career rehabilitation or training
  • Weekly replacement wages

While you’re out of work due to an injury, you’ll continue to receive these benefits. Even after you return to work, your medical care will still be covered. However, you won’t continue to receive weekly checks.

Your employer wants you back as soon as possible. While you’re out, their insurance covers your benefits – both medical and financial. But the whole time you’re out of work, they have to pay another person to do your job. In a sense, they’re paying out wages for two workers.

How Do You Qualify for Workers Compensation in Atlanta, Georgia?

In order to receive workers comp benefits in Georgia, you have to meet certain criteria. These include the following:

  • You were hurt while at work
  • You were operating within the scope of your employment at the time of the accident
  • You were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • You agree to be treated by a state-approved doctor
  • You reported the injury immediately
  • You don’t work for another company while out on worker’s comp

For the most part, people who meet these requirements are approved for benefits. However, there are times when the insurance company may deny your claim for some other reason. Maybe you have a history of filing workers’ comp claims. Or they may suspect that your injury happened outside the workplace but can’t prove it.

The good news is that our personal injury attorneys in Atlanta will fight to get you the benefits you deserve.

Atlanta workers' compensation lawyer

What Is Disability?

Disability may seem similar to workers compensation because it’s provided to people who are not medically able to work. However, it is an entirely different program. Disability is meant to provide benefits to people who are injured or sick and cannot work at all. Their injuries did not happen at work.

People on disability can suffer from all sorts of medical issues, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Mental health issues
  • Back issues
  • Brain injury
  • Paralysis

It doesn’t matter how a person is hurt when they apply for disability. They have to get their doctor to sign off on a form that states they are not able to work. They’ll have to prove that the condition they have will persist (or has persisted) for more than one year. In addition, they have to show that they can’t work at any job that pays a reasonable wage.

It’s important to know that the state denies benefits to more than 70% of first-time applicants. It usually takes a year or longer to convince the state to pay your benefits. Some people wait years. Of course, if you’re ever approved, you get retroactive pay dating back to the day you first qualified for disability.

How Much Do You Receive Under Each Program?

If your workers’ compensation claim is approved, you’ll receive weekly checks. The amount of your check will be equal to 2/3 of your average weekly wages. So, if you normally earn $1,000 per week, your benefits will be $666 per week. The most you can receive, regardless of your salary, is $675 per week. This means that people who make more than $1,000 per week won’t receive more than $666 in weekly benefits.

Disability is a lot different from workers’ compensation. The most you’ll receive from disability is $1,019 per month. This is not a lot of money. On workers comp, the most you can receive is approximately $2,700. That’s more than three times what you’d get on disability.

Clearly, if your injuries aren’t permanent, or if you can work a little bit, you’re much better off collecting workers comp than disability.

Contact a Skilled Injury Attorney in Atlanta Today

If you’ve been injured at work, you should call an experienced injury attorney in Atlanta. Even if you’ve been hurt and it has nothing to do with work, you can give us a call. Our associates have decades of experience handling cases like yours. They’ll review your case and let you know which type of benefits you’re eligible for. They’ll also let you know how much you can expect to receive under the two programs.

All you have to do is call our office and schedule your free, initial consultation. Sit down with a personal injury attorney in Atlanta sooner rather than later. You don’t want to file for the wrong kind of benefits only to learn that you missed the filing deadline on the other program. Since your consultation is free, it won’t cost you anything to meet with our team. The other good news is that you don’t pay anything until your case is resolved.