Disabled? Know Your Rights in Massachusetts

If you are facing a debilitating injury that has affected your ability to work and provide for your family, you may have more options than you think. Depending on whether you were injured on the job, at home, or during a work-related activity, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation insurance or other government need-based programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance.

What are my Options?

The guiding principle to determine the type of benefits you may be entitled to depends on whether you were injured at work. “At work” broadly implies that you were either physically at your workplace when you were injured, or you were doing something at the specific direction of your employer, such as driving to a client meeting or performing work related errands when the injury occurred. If you were legally defined as being within your “scope of employment” at the time you were injured, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation benefits are paid from the mandatory insurance that Massachusetts employers are required to carry for the benefit of their employees. There are strict reporting requirements on both the employer and the employee that must be followed in order for benefits to be obtained.  Workers’ compensation insurance may pay up to two-thirds of the wages the worker earned before he or she became unable to work.

Social Security Disability

On the other hand, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be awarded whether an individual was injured at home or on the job. Eligibility for SSDI depends on several factors, including but not limited to:

  • Your contribution to Social Security via your paychecks over the years;
  • Whether you meet the government’s legal definition for disability;
  • Whether your disability is expected to last for more than a year;
  • Whether you are receiving other benefits for your injury; and
  • Whether you are able to participate in any work, even if it is paid less or in a different field than your previous occupation.

Even if you were injured on the job, you may also be entitled to SSDI benefits in addition to Workers’ Compensation. There is, however, a limitation that you cannot collectively receive more than 80% of what your wages were before you were injured. If collecting from one of the benefits programs would give you more than 80% of you previous wages, the benefits will be scaled accordingly.

Boston Disability Attorneys

Even if you have previously applied for SSDI or workers’ compensation and been denied, in most instances you have the right to a timely appeal. Time is truly of the essence in most workers’ compensation claims, so it is important to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney or Social Security Disability attorney as soon as possible. Making sure each document is completed thoroughly and accurately the first time will greatly improve your chances of recovery and timely benefit disbursement. To learn more about the process of applying, re-applying, or collecting workers’ compensation or SSDI benefits, contact John J. Sheehan at his Boston-based office today.