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Injured workers can get disability benefits from feds and states


Workers with physical disabilities are part of the workforce in every state, including Pennsylvania. Some of those disabilities are long standing and do not prevent people from working. Sometimes, though, an individual can become disabled as a result of a workplace injury. If the disability prevents the worker from returning to the job even temporarily, he or she may be eligible for government benefits to live.

Every state has some form of a workers' compensation program that provides cash benefits and sometimes medical facilities to treat workers' injuries. Those with workplace disabilities may also be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance and other medical care benefits. The largest benefit program for people with disabilities is the Social Security Disability Insurance program. The next largest are the state workers' compensation programs.

However, most people are not aware of how workers' compensation insurance works. In Pennsylvania, it covers all medical expenses resulting from treatment of the workplace injury and a portion of the worker's lost wages. To receive the cash benefits, an employee must have either a temporary or permanent disability. Compensation for lost wages typically covers two-thirds of the lost earnings. Temporary disability is paid until the worker is perceived to have completely recovered from the workplace injury.

If the injured worker is able to return to the job and is able to earn as much as before the workplace accident, then the cash benefits decrease. If the employee is permanently impaired, then the insurer or employer becomes responsible for paying permanent disability benefits.

Permanent disabilities can be partial or total. In most states, including Pennsylvania, permanent partial disability is determined as a percentage of total disability. The difference between earnings before an injury and after the worker receives workplace benefits are taken into account for payment of permanent partial disability.

Source: SSA.gov, "Workplace Injuries and the Take-Up of Social Security Disability Benefits," Accessed on Jan.22, 2015

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