When a worker in Illinois is injured on the job -- performing their work duties at their place of work -- they can look to the workers' compensation system for assistance. Workers' compensation benefits can help to pay for medical expenses, replace lost wages and to compensate injured workers for a reduction in the their ability to do their job. In cases where the injury prevents a worker from returning to work for an extended period or results in a long-term disability, the worker may also qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Even though they may sometimes overlap -- offering benefits for the same injury -- Illinois workers' compensation and SSDI are not the same thing. Workers' comp is an insurance that an employer pays for. If an employee is injured on the job, the workers' compensation insurance is triggered to offer the worker benefits for the injury. In exchange for paying workers' comp premiums, employers enjoy reduced liability for on-the-job injuries.
Social Security Disability, on the other hand, is a federal program that is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). To qualify for SSD benefits, a claimant must demonstrate with medical evidence that they are suffering from a long-term disability or a malady that prevents them from working for a long period of time. If they qualify, benefits are paid from a trust fund to which all U.S. workers contribute as a part of their payroll withholding.
Even though an injured worker may qualify for both types of benefits, workers' compensation typically accounts for a majority of the assistance an injured worker will receive. Importantly, most claimants will not qualify for both. An injured worker should seek the advice of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to determine what benefits they may be entitled to.
Source: NCCI.com, "Social Security Disability Insurance and Workers Compensation," accessed on April 14, 2018