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Workers' compensation compared to SSDI

When a worker is injured doing his her job in New York, he or she typically must seek recourse through the state's workers' compensation system. In cases where a worker has sustained an injury or contracted a serious illness that can prevent them from returning to work for a long period of time or reduces their ability to perform the tasks that their job requires, they may also be eligible for benefits through the federal Social Security Disability Insurance program.

Workers' compensation is a type of insurance that the state requires employers to purchase in case a worker is injured on the job. It is a system that in theory benefits both the employer and the employee. The employee receives medical and financial assistance from workers' comp benefits. At the same time, state law limits the liability to which an employer is exposed for injuries that employees experience while on the job.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), on the other hand, is a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration. It is funded by a trust to which U.S. workers contribute over the course of their working careers. However, SSD benefits are not easy to qualify for. At a minimum, a worker must typically have contributed to the program for at least 10 years and must suffer a disability that is permanent or will prevent them from working for at least a year.

In cases where a worker qualifies for both workers compensation and SSD benefits, the bulk of the financial and medical assistance the worker receives will still be derived from the New York workers' compensation system. But SSD benefits can help fill some of the financial gaps that may exist for as long as a worker is unable to work and into the future should the workplace injury or illness continue to inhibit the ability to earn a living.

Source: NCCI, "Social Security Disability Insurance and Workers Compensation," Jim Davis, Matt Schutz and Bruce Spidell, accessed May 8, 2018.

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