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WORKERS’ COMP AND DISABILITY BENEFITS – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Clients often call our office to say that they want to apply for “disability.” When that happens, our first question is always “did this happen on the job or off?” – because it makes a big difference.

New York’s Disability Benefits Law provides benefits for non-work-related injuries or illnesses. The benefit amount is 50% of salary up to a maximum of $170 per week, and lasts for a maximum of 26 weeks. The law provides no medical coverage – and many employers will require a worker to pay for their own health insurance under COBRA if they are off the payroll.

By comparison, the Workers’ Compensation Law provides benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses. The benefit amount depends a number of factors, but is a minimum of $150 per week and a maximum of $966.78 (and going up to $1,064.05 for accidents on or after July 1, 2021). Lost wage benefits can be payable for years, and even for life in some situations. There are also money awards for permanent injury to a limb, and full medical coverage.

Social Security Disability Benefits are available for both work-related and non-work-related disabilities. The basic rule for Social Security Disability is that you must be disabled for at least five months with the expectation that you will be disabled for at least one year. If you are receiving workers’ compensation, then in some situations the amount of the Social Security payment may be reduced.

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