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What happens after an injury on the job?

When you went to work on that fateful day, you felt great. In fact, you thought that the workday would go quickly and that you'd soon be heading out on your week of vacation.

You almost couldn't believe it when you noticed your coworker making a basic mistake on the job. You quickly ran over to stop them, but it was too late. In just seconds you were both involved in a serious accident, and you have injuries to deal with. You're both rushed to the hospital and require months of surgeries, therapies and other assistance.

What happens after you're hurt on the job?

Initially, you'll receive coverage through workers' compensation. This insurance covers medical bills and some lost wages. You may also start to receive disability benefits in the future.

The main difference between disability benefits and workers' compensation is that workers' compensation is insurance used to cover injured employees. Disability benefits are paid by the Social Security Administration, not the employer.

Are you entitled to both disability benefits and workers' compensation?

Sometimes. You may be entitled to state disability benefits for the days you're entitled to workers' compensation, either temporary or permanent. You'll receive those if the state's benefits are higher than your workers' compensation benefits.

You may also opt to receive state benefits if your employer or their insurance company is still determining if you should receive workers' compensation. If you do obtain workers' compensation, you will need to repay the money received from the state.

When do workers' compensation benefits turn into disability benefits?

You will receive workers' compensation benefits until your condition stabilizes and becomes stationary. At that point, you may be entitled to permanent disability benefits and long-term medical care. State disability benefits, not federal, are paid for only 52 weeks at a maximum.

If you are disabled or have a terminal illness and expect to be disabled for a year or longer, you may be able to receive Social Security Disability as well as workers' compensation at the same time. Keep in mind that your Social Security Disability benefits may be reduced slightly since you are receiving workers' compensation or state benefits on top.

If you're disabled by a work injury, the last thing you should have to worry about is where your money will come from or what medical benefits you'll have. Disability benefits through the state and government are there to protect you.

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Disability Rights Law Center
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Los Angeles, CA 90017

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