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Connecticut not shifting workers' compensation burden to SSDI

Residents who are injured doing their jobs generally must rely on the workers' compensation system for medical and financial assistance. In some cases though, the workers' compensation benefits may not be sufficient to cover the lost wages or meet the financial needs of the injured employee. In such instances, an injured or disabled worker may also be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) from the federal government.

Social Security Disability (SSD) has received a lot of press lately, due to burgeoning claims, delays and even allegations of fraud. These benefits are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and are distributed from a trust to which all workers in the United States contribute, while they are in the workforce. Usually, the first threshold a worker must cross to obtain SSD benefits is 10 years of contributions to the fund. The next criteria that must be met is that the illness, injury or disability must affect the worker's ability to hold down a job.

In the period between 2001 and 2015, the rolls of SSDI beneficiaries increased almost 60 percent. Over the same period the expenditures SSA was making on SSDI also increased from $60 billion to $143 billion.

This spike in SSD claims led to speculation that states were attempting to shift the burden for injured workers to the federal government by lowering workers compensation benefits and steering workers toward SSDI.

But, recent research from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has debunked these theories. From 2010 onward, both SSDI claim numbers and expenditures have leveled off. And in the cases in which a worker qualifies for both SSDI and workers' compensation, the latter bears the brunt of the benefits burden. Workers who are injured on the job should, therefore, look first to the workers' compensation system for benefits and to the advice of an experienced workers' compensation attorney for assistance.

Source: NCCI, "Social Security Disability Insurance and Workers Compensation," Jim Davis, Matt Schutz and Bruce Spidell, accessed Apr. 2, 2018

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