What Pays More, Workers Comp or Disability Benefits? Answer Explained by Experienced Lawyers
If a person is injured on the job, there are other considerations besides health. What happens if the employee cannot return to work? Is there any way to recover lost wages?
When trying to answer those questions, Ohio workers can think of several options that appear to have their backs, including workers' compensation and disability benefits.
At first, they both seem adequate to meet their needs. However, there is still much to find out. Which of the two pays more? What are the best benefits? Here's what experienced attorneys say!
Understanding the Workers' Compensation and Disability Benefits
While these are both options to protect employees and provide monetary payments or support to those who have suffered injuries or illnesses, they are different. Here's a detailed explanation of each.
Workers' Compensation Benefits in Columbus, Ohio
If a workers' comp claim is approved, workers who suffered work-related injuries, such as carpal tunnel, may be able to obtain some benefits, including:
Payment for emergency medical bills
Payment for doctor visits or ongoing treatment
Replacement of lost wages (the amount depends on how long a person might be disabled)
Loss of earning capacity, including cases where workers can continue to work but do not earn as much as they did before due to injury or disability
Compensation for loss of body parts, sight, or hearing
Survivor benefits if a worker dies from an on-the-job injury
Also, the benefits an injured employee can receive for workplace injuries fall into several categories.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
Workers who suffer an on-the-job injury or occupational disease that affects their ability to work are entitled to temporary total disability benefits.
The amounts injured workers receive are determined by the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW) when they were injured. These benefits are usually granted until employees can work again, either in the same or a different position, when doctors confirm maximum medical improvement (if the condition has improved as much as it should with treatment) or after 200 weeks.
Wage Loss Benefits
Workers who suffer work-related injuries can also get wage loss benefits if they have a temporary partial disability.
These benefits often account for two-thirds of the difference between individuals' wages before the accident and their earnings after suffering the injury or illness.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
After reaching the maximum medical improvement or 200 weeks receiving temporary total disability benefits, injured workers must undergo a medical exam to determine if the on-the-job injury or illness caused limitations.
Workers who have lost the use of both hands, feet, arms, legs, eyes, or a combination of several body parts are considered permanently disabled. The same is true for employees who cannot serve in a long-term paid position because the skills they already had or could develop were affected.
If considered to have a permanent total disability, injured workers may receive weekly payments under workers' comp for the rest of their lives.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
When the medical evaluation determines that they have a permanent but not total disability, injured workers can receive permanent partial disability benefits.
Under Ohio workers' compensation laws, calculating the amount awarded for these benefits is often based on the percentage of overall disability, loss of certain body parts, or severe disfigurement.
Lump Sum Payment
Those seeking immediate financial relief or rehabilitation assistance may also seek a workers' compensation settlement. When a workers' compensation claim is settled, those with a permanent partial disability do not receive weekly payments but a lump sum. However, this process often requires them to waive other benefits.
Other Workers' Compensation Benefits
Moreover, Ohio injured workers (or survivors when the employee dies from their injuries) may receive other workers comp benefits, including:
Coverage for medical expenses
Vocational rehabilitation or physical therapy
Survivor benefits (often granted to the deceased worker's surviving dependents, including spouses or minor children)
Disability Insurance and Other Related Benefits in Columbus, Ohio
Individuals living in Columbus, Ohio, who lose the ability to work due to a non-work-related injury can seek disability benefits through private insurance or state programs.
Private Disability Insurance
Unlike workers' compensation, disability insurance is optional. Ohio law does not require employers to provide this alternative in benefits packages. However, many employers or hiring managers offer employees the opportunity to opt into a group plan. If they accept, employers pay a portion of the premium each month while workers pay the rest.
Disability income insurance policies fall into two categories.
Short-term disability benefits: These grant beneficiaries a percentage of their base salary for periods ranging from a few weeks to a year.
Long-term disability benefits: With long-term policies, beneficiaries receive payments for lost wages for much longer.
State Disability Benefits
If a disability prevents them from working for the rest of their lives, Ohio residents can apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). It offers two different programs:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Through SSDI, people with disabilities who are unable to work or certain dependent family members can obtain monthly monetary benefits. However, the coverage only applies to those who have worked and paid Social Security taxes on their earnings.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI provides monthly payments to adults and children with disabilities whose income or resources are too low. To obtain these benefits, individuals must not have worked in the past.
Some people qualify for both programs. However, eligibility is always determined by the Ohio Division of Disability Determination (DDD). Therefore, anyone seeking benefits must submit medical documents for review and undergo medical examinations ordered by the SSA.
Do Both Pay Medical Expenses? Difference Between Workers' Compensation and Disability Insurance
Workers' compensation benefits are awarded to people who suffer work-related injuries. Ohio law does not require employers to provide workers' compensation insurance to their employees, but they can do it either by participating in the state fund or by hiring a private insurance company.
Since it is a no-fault program, individuals who are injured in their workplaces are covered by workers' compensation regardless of what caused their illness or injury. Disability insurance benefits are paid to people who lose their ability to work. However, in this case, the injury or illness that affects the person's working life is not job-related.
Depending on the disability insurance program or benefits provided by the state, injured workers and disabled people may be covered for a set period of time or for life. However, both private and state disability insurance policies do not cover medical bills and may pay less in wage loss than workers' compensation benefits.
Here's a list of the key differences to better understand both options:
Workers' comp is usually granted by the company or employer. However, disability benefits are paid through the employee's disability income insurance or through the federal government's programs, such as SSDI.
The benefits an injured worker can obtain through workers' comp usually last longer, as most payments are granted until the beneficiary reaches the maximum medical improvement. In contrast, while federal benefits are permanent or last long, disability insurance is often available for just a few weeks.
A person who goes back to work cannot get SSDI payments. However, the workers' comp benefits can be extended if the worker serves in a new position but earns less or their earning capacity is reduced.
While workers' comp payments are not taxable, disability insurance benefits are subject to income tax.
Workers' compensation covers medical expenses related to the injury. However, medical bill payments are often limited in disability insurance policies. Also, SSDI only offers medical benefits in certain cases, and the process is often more complicated.
Those who want to obtain SSDI benefits must go through an extensive application process or even endure several appeals before their application is approved. Instead, workers' compensation begins as soon as an employee is injured.
How Much Does Workers' Compensation Pay In Columbus, Ohio?
Determining the exact amount an injured worker can get through workers' compensation depends on many factors. Overall, the payment is based on the beneficiary's wages when the injury occurs.
During the first 12 weeks, injured workers often receive about 72% of their full weekly wages. After that period, beneficiaries typically receive two-thirds of their average weekly salary (66%). However, it only applies to those granted workers' comp benefits for temporary total disability. In this sense, the amounts can also vary according to each individual's benefits.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation has established the rates from 2010 to 2022 according to the types of benefits in this way:
Temporary Total Disability: The maximum weekly wage that injured workers can earn through this benefit is $1,085 if they do not receive Social Security retirement benefits or $723.33 if they receive Social Security payments. The minimum pay is set at $361.67 unless the employee earned less than that amount.
Living Maintenance: Those participating in approved rehabilitation programs can get a higher minimum payment of $542.50, with maximum amounts based on temporary total disability benefits.
Permanent Total: Injured employees who are unable to return to work can get a maximum payment of $1,085 each week without Social Security benefits or $723.33 with Social Security Disability Insurance.
Wage Loss: The wage loss benefits granted to those who can return to work but earn less are limited to $1,085 per week.
Permanent Partial: Those who are permanently but not totally disabled can get a maximum of $361.67 per week as compensation for their loss of earning capacity.
Survivor Benefits: Dependents of a worker who died from an on-the-job injury can get benefits ranging from $542.50 to $1,085 per week, depending on the employee's wages when the accident or illness occurred.
Scheduled Loss: Injured workers who lose the use of a body part or hearing capacity can receive weekly payments limited to $1,085.
However, since the compensation amount is based on a worker's salary at the time of the injury or disease, it is essential to seek help from professionals with experience in the area to determine the average a beneficiary can obtain each week.
How Much Does Disability Insurance Pay in Columbus, Ohio?
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)'s amount depends on an individual's income record. Since these benefits are based on the taxes employees pay while they work, the more a person has worked and paid, the higher their payments will be.
SSDI does not pay medical bills at first. However, after two years, beneficiaries are eligible for Medicare health coverage and can apply for the benefit.
Those who qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) get financial aid for basic needs, but it is limited to a single payment of $841 per month in benefits. This program automatically provides Medicaid coverage.
If injured workers have purchased disability insurance coverage through a private company, the amount for their short-term or long-term disability benefits will depend on the policy they chose.
Are Workers Comp Benefits Better Than Disability Insurance Benefits?
Each case is unique. Therefore, determining whether workers comp benefits are better than disability income insurance depends on the needs of each employee. However, workers' compensation offers more advantages to workers who have suffered an injury compared to disability insurance programs.
Employers often encourage workers who have been injured on the job to seek government benefits. However, they always protect their interests and think about what is best for them.
In almost all cases, the best option for people who are injured on the job is workers' comp. Furthermore, in addition to not having to pay taxes, those who obtain this benefit receive a higher monthly payment.
Moreover, the financial benefits are higher, considering that workers' comp offers medical benefits. Whether they choose disability benefits from an insurance company or government programs, injured workers will have limited coverage for their treatment and other needs.
Finally, workers who have been injured but still want to continue working can serve in a less demanding position and still get workers' comp benefits if their wages are lower.
Can an Injured Employee Have Workers Comp and Disability Insurance?
A worker who suffered a work-related injury may be entitled to both workers' compensation and private or federal disability insurance. However, some benefits may affect others.
Disability insurance payments from private companies, including pensions or group policies, do not affect benefits provided by the government. However, SSDI payments for employees receiving workers' compensation or private disability coverage may be lower and vice versa.
When a person receives SSDI benefits and workers' comp or insurance disability payment, the total amount must not exceed 80% of their average earnings before they were injured and disabled.
In most states, people who file for short-term disability insurance when they should be receiving workers' compensation benefits must pay a portion of the disability payments. It's called "offset."
Under Ohio law, for Social Security Disability Benefits to offset workers' comp payments, the Social Security Administration (SSA) reduces the combined amount to 80%. Also, if a beneficiary has a dependent who receives SSDI payments, the SSA can also reduce the total to the same mark.
How Can Ohio Workers' Comp Lawyers Help
Those who have to pay for medical treatment or suffer from permanent disability and want to determine what is the best option for them should seek professional help from experienced workers comp' attorneys!
There are also Social Security Disability attorneys that can help injured employees know what to do if they are unable to work and want to get government benefits. In both cases, professionals can help workers choose the option that really favors them and meets their needs.
Although workers' comp seems to pay more than disability income insurance, each case is different. Therefore, those who want to know what the right path is should seek help from seasoned workermans compensation lawyers in Columbus who understand the processes and help them receive the benefits they deserve.
Larrimer & Larrimer's Legal Team Is Ready to Help Ohio Workers!
Our law firm has the best experts to help workers find the right solution if they are unable to work! With over 90 years of experience, we are ready to give Ohio employees or their families the legal assistance they need to achieve peace of mind after an accident or obtain the benefits that are rightfully theirs if they become disabled.
Every person on Larrimer & Larrimer's team, from attorneys to paralegals, strives to understand and solve all our clients' problems. In addition, we fight for their rights and make sure they get the maximum benefits in each case.
Any worker who needs to file a workers' compensation claim to recover lost wages or cover medical costs can find a reliable attorney at our firm!
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All injured employees or family members who want to understand the difference between workers comp and disability insurance, know which one pays more, and discover the best benefits can contact us and get a free consultation today!