workers comp lawyer Arkansas residents who are unable to work due to a physical injury, medical condition, or mental health condition may be entitled to various types of benefits, depending on certain factors. Two options to consider are Worker’s Compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits. Let our workers comp lawyer explain the difference and help you determine which type of benefits may be available to you.

The basic difference between Workers Comp and Disability

Depending on how you were injured or became ill, where you are employed and what your health condition is, you may have one of two options. Workers’ compensation is run by the state and provides benefits for individuals who have been injured at work. On the other hand, Social Security Disability is a federally-funded program that provides benefits to those eligible individuals who suffer from a long-term illness or other condition. A workers comp lawyer at the Cottrell Law Office can help you determine which type of benefits you may need, as well as assist in the application process and appeal if your application is denied.

When would I be entitled to Workers Comp benefits?

Arkansas Workers’ compensation benefits are available to individuals who were injured on the job or who have an illness that is the result of the conditions of their job. Arkansas law requires every employer in the state, with the exception of federal government employees) to maintain workers’ compensation insurance for the benefit of their employees. That insurance will assist in covering medical bills for injured employees, as well as provide wages to those who are unable to work. In order to be eligible for Arkansas workers’ comp you must meet the following criteria:

  • Work in Arkansas
  • Work for an eligible employer
  • Not be considered an independent contractor, and
  • Suffered a “work-related” injury

What does it mean for an injury to be work-related?

One of the most important requirements for workers comp eligibility is that your injury must be “work-related.” This requirement can be met with an on-the-job injury, meaning it occurred on the premises. It can also mean performing work-related job duties while off-premises.
Working conditions can also result in injury or illness. For example, repetitive injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or respiratory illnesses from exposure to fumes. Even though these conditions might take a long period of time develop, they can still constitute work-related illness or injury and qualify you for workers’ comp benefits. If you have questions about whether your condition or injury qualifies as work-related, contact our workers comp lawyer.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, there are certain requirements that the Social Security Administration as established. The five basic requirements are as follows:

  • Income less than $1,170 per month (as of 2017)
  • Condition is sufficiently severe to interfere with work-related activities
  • Condition is listed as one of the SSA’s qualifying disorders, or at least be as severe as one of those disorders
  • Unable to do the work you previously performed
  • Unable to adjust to another type of work

The difference in qualifying medical conditions

With Social Security Disability benefits, the focus is disability, not whether the injury or condition is work-related. Instead, the injury must prevent you from working for more than a year or be terminal.

Differences in benefits provided

The basic purpose of both types of benefits is to assist individuals who cannot work to earn a living wage. However, the types of benefits available may be different. Workers compensation entitles you to medical expenses and lost wages for work-related illness or injury.
Social Security Disability benefits, on the other hand, are meant to replace income only.  That is because other federal assistance plans, such as Medicare, provide coverage for health care and treatment related to the disabling condition.
Arkansas residents are typically not required to choose between the two benefits programs. In most cases, as long as you meet the requirements for each program, you can apply for both workers’ comp and Social Security Disability. You may see certain deductions based on the benefits you receive from both, but you your disability benefits can still supplement your workers’ comp. benefits.
If you have questions regarding worker’s comp, social security disability, or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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