If you were injured on the job, Social Security disability benefits and workers' comp benefits can provide a valuable financial safety net. However, the timing of your benefits application is important.
Although every case is unique, you should generally apply for workers' compensation benefits as soon as you are injured. After your doctor determines that your condition is expected to last at least one year, you should apply for Social Security disability insurance benefits. You do not want to wait until you've received your workers' compensation settlement to begin the SSDI application process.
Attorney Phillip Hendry is well-equipped to handle any issues you may have regarding either workers' compensation benefits or your SSDI application. Contact our office today for assistance.
Steps to Take After a Work Injury
In Louisiana, the deadline to file a lawsuit to assert a claim for workers' compensation benefits is one year from the date of the accident. In Louisiana this is caused a prescriptive period (statue of limitations). There are other prescriptive periods that apply to occupational diseases or conditions that develop over time or in situations where benefits have been paid before the one year prescriptive period. Such situations would would require a consultation to discuss case specific information.
Before filing a lawsuit, it's important to provide your employer with notice or file a claim for workers' compensation benefits as soon as possible after an accident and injury. Waiting too long could jeopardize your ability to receive benefits from the program, as it may become more difficult to prove your injury is work-related.
1. Notify Your Employer
You should inform your supervisor of your injury as soon as possible. It's a good idea to do so in writing to create a record. Be sure to provide details about the injury's date, time, and location, as well as any witnesses who were present. Keep a copy of what you provide your supervisor and employer.
2. Seek Medical Attention
If your injury requires immediate medical attention, seek medical care right away. You are entitled to your choice of physician in Lousisiana.
3. File a Claim
Your employer should report the claim to their workers' compensation insurance company for investigation and handling. If they do not, you should immediately contact an attorney. If you are contacted by the insurance company, be sure to include all relevant information, such as the date and location of the injury, the nature of the injury, and any medical treatment you have received.
4. Monitor the Progress of Your Claim
Make sure to follow up with your employer and/or their insurance carrier to ensure that your claim is being processed and that you are receiving the appropriate benefits. If your employer and/or their insurance carrier is not communicating with you, consult a workers' compensation attorney for guidance.
Being Approved for Louisiana Workers' Compensation Benefits
Once your claim is submitted, it typically will be processed within a few weeks.
If your claim is denied, contact a workers' compensation attorney to try to change the decision or file a lawsuit with the Office of Workers' Compensation and seek a hearing before a workers' compensation judge.
If your case involves a permanent injury, you may be offered a lump sum payment or settlement. Do not accept any offer from the insurer until you've discussed your options with an attorney.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits
To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must be an insured employee with an impairment that meets the SSA's definition of a disability.
1. Meeting the Definition of an Insured Employee
You must have worked and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings for a certain amount of time, which is based on your age at the time you become disabled. Generally, you must have worked for at least five out of the last ten years before becoming disabled to be considered an insured worker.
2. Proving a Qualifying Disability
To be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death and prevents you from employment that is considered substantial gainful work.
Timeline for the SSDI Application Process
The SSA estimates that it takes an average of three to five months to process an initial SSDI application. However, this timeline can be longer or shorter depending on the case's complexity, the amount of medical evidence available, and other factors.
If your initial application is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision through several levels of review, including reconsideration, a hearing with an administrative law judge, and an appeal to the Appeals Council. The appeals process for a disputed claim can take several months to several years to complete, depending on the level of review and the backlog of cases at each level.
Because the approval process for SSDI benefits can be so time-consuming, you should work with an experienced Louisiana Social Security disability attorney to file your application as soon as your doctor believes you qualify for the program.
How Workers' Comp Payments Affect Disability Benefits
If you qualify for both SSDI and workers' compensation benefits, your SSDI payment may be reduced. The combined benefits can't exceed 80% of your average current wage as determined by the Social Security Administration. This is known as a payment offset, but it's possible that your employer can have it reversed if you are permanently and totally disabled.
Do You Need a Louisiana Workers' Compensation Lawyer Who Can Also Assist With Your SSDI Claim?
Phillip M. Hendry Law serves injured workers throughout North and Central Louisiana. We can help with your disputed workers' comp claim and can assist with your SSDI application or appeal if needed. Complete our online contact form or call (318) 553-5900 to schedule a consultation. For your convenience, we offer video conferencing options that let you seek assistance from the comfort of your own home.