Most people who collect workers compensation benefits in Florida aren’t out of work very long. Many workplace injuries are relatively minor. You may need surgery or physical therapy but, for the most, you go back to work before the year is up. Workers’ compensation attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida represent dozens of clients every year who either go back to work or settle their case. If, however, you’re one of the few who are out of work for the long-term, you may have questions about disability benefits.
It’s no secret that people out on workers comp only receive about 2/3 of their average weekly wages. That’s hardly enough to live on. One solution for many people is to apply for disability. The question is whether you can collect both workers comp and disability benefits at the same time.
How Do You Qualify for Workers Comp in Florida?
Not everybody who gets hurt at work qualifies for workers compensation. In order to collect workers comp benefits in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, you must meet the following criteria:
- Your injury must’ve occurred at work
- You can’t be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of your accident
- You didn’t have a pre-existing condition
- You agree to be treated by a state-approved doctor
- You promptly report your injury to your manager or human resources department
- You comply with all medical treatment recommendations
If you meet all of these criteria, there’s a good chance you’ll collect workers compensation. This entitles you to medical coverage and replacement wages. Your weekly benefits will be equal to 2/3 of your average weekly wages.
How Does One Qualify for Disability Benefits in Florida?
To qualify for disability benefits, you’ll need to have your doctor (or your workers comp doctor) certify that you’re disabled. This means that you are not capable of working in any job available in your region.
Some people think they can collect disability benefits simply because they’re injured. This isn’t the case. You have to demonstrate that there is no reasonable job in which you can perform. For example, if you’re a waitress, they won’t expect you to find a job as an accountant. However, if you’re a truck driver, and your company has a desk position available, you’ll be expected to fill that position before you apply for disability.
Some of the factors that help determine if you’ll receive disability benefits include:
- Your age
- Your work experience
- Your skills and education
- Available jobs that you qualify for
If your Ft. Lauderdale personal injury attorney can prove you meet the requirements for disability, you will be able to collect disability benefits.
Can Your Workers Compensation Attorney in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Help You Collect Both Types of Benefits?
Workers’ compensation can be a difficult system to navigate. However, it’s nowhere near as complicated as the disability system. Even people who are totally disabled have a hard time qualifying for benefits.
Some say that as much as 70% of first-time disability applicants are denied benefits.
It can be extremely frustrating to get through the application process. To find out you’ve been denied is even worse. Your Florida personal injury attorney may have to appeal your claim several times before they’re successful in procuring you benefits.
A lot of our clients assume their application for disability benefits will be denied because they’re receiving workers comp benefits. This isn’t the case. You can actually be approved for disability while on workers comp. However, there is a limit to how much you can collect all together.
Is There a Cap on How Much You Can Receive?
One of the most important things to know about collecting both workers comp and disability benefits is that there’s a limit to how much you can collect. Under both state and federal law, you’re limited to collecting 80% of your average wages.
The way it works is rather simple. The State of Florida calculates your average weekly wages. Then multiply this amount by 80%. Whatever this amount may be, they subtract whatever amount you’re receiving from workers comp.
Whatever the residual amount is, that’s the most you can collect under disability. The amount you lose in disability benefits is called an offset.
Imagine that your average weekly wages were $500. You can only receive 80% of this amount which is $400 per week. If you were receiving $300 per week from workers compensation, you would be entitled to $100 per week in disability benefits.
The offset will continue for as long as you’re on both programs. If your workers comp benefits are terminated or become exhausted, the offset will be lifted. You would then receive your full disability benefit.
Can Your Florida Personal Injury Attorney Help You Avoid a Benefit Offset?
Once our clients learn that they’re going to be limited in how much they can collect, they ask if we can help. Their hope is that we can convince the state to pay their full disability amount. Unfortunately, this is not possible.
As much as your workers compensation attorney in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida would love to help get the offset removed, they don’t have the power or ability to do that. They have no control over what benefits the state pays out under disability. However, they can help explain the offset to you. They can also help you apply for both workers comp and disability benefits.
While your workers compensation attorney in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida can’t do anything about the disability offset, they can help. They’ll show you how to structure your claims so as to maximize your benefits.
Reach Out to a Seasoned Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve suffered a serious workplace injury, there’s a good chance you’ll be out of commission for a while. You may even become temporarily (or permanently) disabled. If this is the case, you should contact one of our Florida personal injury attorneys. They can review your claim and explain how the disability offset works.
People collecting both workers compensation and disability benefits are limited in how much they can receive. You’re not going to be able to collect more in tax free dollars than you earned while working full-time.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out to maximize your temporary benefits, call our office right away. Let us help you navigate the sometimes-confusing worlds of workers compensation and disability benefits. Your initial consultation is free, so you don’t have to worry about paying anything upfront.