Most residents of Stockton understand that they have rights to disability benefits under California's workers compensation program and under the federal Social Security Disability Benefits insurance. However, the differences between the two programs are significant, and understanding these differences can be the key to obtaining the maximum amount of benefits.
Both programs provide monetary benefits for workers who have been disabled by an injury or illness, but the similarity stops there. The workers' compensation program is administered by the California Department of Industrial Relations, while the SSDI program is administered by the federal Social Security Administration. Workers compensation benefits are provided by California employers to workers who suffer a disabling injury on the job.
The disability does not need to be total or permanent, but it must have been suffered because of a work-related illness or injury. SSDI benefits are not paid only for work-related injuries or illnesses. Instead, SSDI benefits are paid for disabilities that are permanent and total regardless of the cause.
Workers' compensation benefits are usually paid within one week after the disability occurs and continue until the worker is able to find a job. The amount of benefits may change as the employee's medical condition and ability to work change. Workers' compensation benefits are paid both for temporary and permanent disabilities, and also for partial disabilities.
SSDI benefits are only paid if the disability leaves a person unable to work. A total disability is defined as the inability of the claimant to earn more than $1220 per month. A permanent disability is defined as an illness or injury that is forecast to last at least 12 months or to result in the employee's death.
The two programs are mutually exclusive, although in some circumstances, a worker can recover benefits under both programs.