Workers’ Compensation benefits are a way that bridges the gap between disability and returning to work. However, in some instances these payments may not be enough to care for the needs of someone who has a long term injury. In these cases, Social Security benefits may provide an injured person with an alternative source of income.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability payments to injured workers under its Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI). It pays benefits to qualified workers who have worked long enough and paid some Social Security taxes. SSDI pays benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year, or result in death. Federal law defines disability very strictly. While some programs give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability, Social Security does not.

The SSA goes through a five step process to determine if an injured person is eligible for benefits. This process includes accessing if the injured person is:

(1) working

(2) has a severe injury

(3) has a medical condition listed on the administration’s list of impairments

(4) can do the type of work she did before being injured

(5) can do other types of work

Central to the Administration’s five step process is determining if the injured worker is severely disabled. In general, the SSA considers a person disabled when her medical condition significantly limits her ability to do basic work activities-such as walking, sitting and remembering-for at least one year. If the medical condition is not that severe, the state agency will not consider the injury a disability and it will most likely deny benefits.

Injured workers interested in getting more information about applying for SSDI should visit the administration’s website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

Applying for social security can be a daunting task for anyone. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration offers phone line assistance and helpful links on its website. An injured person is also allowed to seek help from a family member or appoint a qualified attorney to interact with Social Security on her behalf.