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Workers’ Comp and State Disability Insurance

Workers’ comp may not be the only benefit available to injured workers in California. In addition to the federal benefits available to the long-term disabled under Social Security, California has also established its own State Disability Insurance (SDI) program to provide benefits to injured workers. SDI and workers’ comp are not mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, injured workers must be careful to understand how these two programs interact in order to avoid forfeiting valuable rights.

First, it is important to realize that the chief purpose of SDI is to provide benefits for non-work related injuries. Second, in most instances workers’ compensation benefits are substantially more than what would be available under SDI. Third, the law generally prevents injured workers from receiving the windfall benefits of both workers’ comp and SDI concurrently.

Nevertheless, there are several reasons why those who suffer on-the-job injuries should consider filing for SDI even if they intend to pursue a workers’ comp claim:

  • SDI can provide income during the pendency of a disputed workers’ comp claim.
  • When a comp claim is ultimately unsuccessful, an injured individual can still fall back on SDI.
  • In the rare situation where an injured person’s worker’s comp benefits are actually less than what SDI provides, the injured worker can receive worker’s comp as well as the difference from SDI.

If an injured worker who is initially receiving SDI is ultimately successful in a workers’ comp claim, he or she must reimburse the SDI program for the benefits received. However, this does not result in any net loss and also helps to bridge the gap during particularly lengthy workers’ compenstaion litigation. Consult with an experienced Orange County workplace injury attorney to learn more about your options after getting hurt on the job.

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