The difference between workers’ compensation and disability stems from the types of injuries and illnesses each will cover. Disability, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or a private disability policy, covers any qualifying impairment that prevents the person from working and earning a living. Workers’ compensation, on the other hand, covers injuries and illnesses stemming from workplace accidents or exposures.
In some cases, injured workers may meet the qualifications for both workers’ compensation and disability benefits. Many policies create off-sets in this event, so it is unlikely that they will be able to draw full benefits from both sources.
Understanding How Workers’ Compensation Benefits Work
The main difference between workers’ compensation and disability is that workers’ compensation will only pay out when an employee suffers work-related injuries or is diagnosed with a work-related illness. Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 34-9, employers in Georgia with three or more workers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover all employees on their payroll. This coverage includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, and occasional workers.
When a worker suffers injuries in an accident while working, or if they are diagnosed with an illness related to a workplace exposure, the workers’ compensation insurance policy paid for by their employer should cover:
- Medical treatment and related care
- A portion of their missed income while away from work
- Rehabilitation services
In most cases, these workers only miss work temporarily while they undergo treatment, and their injuries heal, or they recover from their illness. Most do not have a disability that prevents them from working permanently. Their inability to work is only temporary and most eventually return to their job, even if they sustained some type of permanent injury.
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Disability Insurance Premiums Are Generally Paid by the Worker
Disability insurance policies are usually something that the employee invests in, even if it is a part of their employer-sponsored benefits plan. The employer generally does not pay for this coverage, and there is no legal requirement that employers must offer this benefit at all.
When a policyholder files a claim with their disability insurance provider, it is because they have a short-term, long-term, or permanent disability that prevents them from performing the tasks associated with their job. This policy does not provide any coverage for medical care or rehabilitation but provides partial wage replacement benefits for the length of time specified by the policy, or until the policyholder recovers.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Disability in Georgia
Some people may confuse workers’ compensation benefits and disability benefits because the wage replacement benefits available through workers’ comp in Georgia are referred to as disability benefits. According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation, there are three types of disability benefits available to injured workers, in addition to death benefits for the survivors of those who passed away from their on-the-job injury.
The types of workers’ compensation disability available to Georgia workers include:
- Temporary total disability benefits: these benefits are available for employees who cannot work at all because of their injuries. The treating physician makes this determination. They will receive approximately two-thirds of their average income up to the maximum allowable under law. Most people can receive these benefits for up to 400 weeks or until they can return to work. In some cases, catastrophic injuries qualify for a lifetime benefit.
- Temporary partial disability benefits: when an employee can return to work but cannot complete all the tasks related to their job, they may be put on light duty, which generally means they are doing less work for less pay. When this happens, they may receive temporary partial disability to cover the difference in their current pay and two-thirds of their previous income, up to the legal maximum.
- Permanent partial disability benefits: this benefit is a possibility if a worker has some type of permanent disability caused by their workplace accident. This disability does not prevent them from working, but they may earn less as a result. This benefit amount is calculated based on the percentage of disability assigned by the treating physician, the number of weeks allowed under the law based on the type of disability, and the worker’s temporary total disability weekly rate.
Contact Us Today To Learn More About Your Rights as an Injured Worker in Atlanta
If you suffered injuries at work and cannot do your job because of your injuries, you likely qualify for workers’ compensation coverage based on Georgia law. Our team can evaluate your situation and help you file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, appeal a denial, or even file a lawsuit against a liable third party if possible.
Let Bader Scott Injury Lawyers review your case for free today. You can speak to a member of our Atlanta-area workers’ compensation team today by calling (678) 562-5595.