Lewis, Marenstein,
Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Llp

How are disability benefits different from workers' compensation?

Disability benefits in California are similar to workers' compensation in that each makes up for lost income in the event that you suffer an injury that renders you unable to work. According to FindLaw, the main differences between the two are who purchases the policy and the circumstances under which the law requires payment. Essentially, disability benefits apply to injuries that you sustain outside of work but are severe enough to prevent you from performing your job. Workers' compensation, on the other hand, is for injuries directly related to your employment.

If you become injured outside of work and meet the qualifications, you may apply to receive federal assistance from Social Security Disability Insurance, which receives funding from payroll taxes. You may also purchase disability insurance privately, or your employer may offer it as a job perk. As an employee, you do not purchase workers' compensation coverage directly, however. Rather, your employer purchases a workers' compensation policy to cover all employees in the event of on-the-job injury. 

Without exception, workers' compensation only covers injuries that you or other employees sustain on the job. However, there are circumstances under which you may receive disability benefits for a work-related injury. You may receive disability benefits if either your employer or its insurer dispute your claim to workers' compensation. Be aware, however, that if your workers' compensation claim is ultimately successful, you will have to pay back the money you received in disability benefits. The other situation in which you can potentially receive disability benefits for a work-related injury is if your workers' compensation benefits do not amount to as much as your disability benefits. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only. 

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Lewis, Marenstein,
Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Llp

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