Workers Comp vs. Disability: Which Should You Apply For?

Both workers’ comp and disability insurance provide financial assistance for injured workers. But workers comp only applies for employees who got injured while on the job. While disability or short-term disability insurance covers injuries that are not work-related.

Many people often confuse the two and it’s completely understandable. But there are plenty of differences between workers’ comp and disability. Knowing these differences will help you figure out which benefit you’ll most likely be approved of.

To guide you, let’s compare workers’ comp vs. disability in terms of:


Most states require certain employers to purchase a workers’ comp insurance policy for their workers. Naturally, they have to pay the premium. This is why most employers don’t like it when an employee claims workers’ compensation. Every workers’ comp claim leads to an increase in premium.

Aside from workers’ compensation, short-term disability coverage for employees is also mandated in:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Puerto Rico

In all the other states, disability insurance is optional for employers. But unlike workers’ compensation, employees also contribute to disability insurance premiums. In New York and Puerto Rico, the benefits and premiums are set by statutes. But other states adjust their disability contribution and benefits yearly.


As mentioned, only workers who got injured on the job can claim workers’ compensation. Some states also require that your injury is your employer’s fault. In other states, however, you don’t have to be injured at the worksite. As long as you got injured while in the course of performing your duty, you’re eligible for workers comp.

If your injury happened outside of work, you are eligible for short-term disability benefits. In states where it’s not mandated, the eligibility criteria can vary depending on the policies of your insurance provider.

Eligibility criteria for workers’ compensation, however, is often dictated by statutes. But each state has different policies, so some injuries might qualify for workers comp in some state but not in others.

A man hard at work who could qualify for workers comp or social security disability.


Both workers comp and disability provides only a portion of the income you used to earn before your injury.

Depending on the state and your disability, workers comp lets you claim up to 80%  of your average weekly wage. Aside from lost wages, workers comp also entitles you to medical benefits. This includes emergency medical treatment, medical supplies, and orthopedic therapies as necessary.

While short-term disability insurance usually only pays about two-thirds of your normal salary. In states where it’s mandated, there’s also a cap on how much you can receive. But in states where it’s optional, the amount depends on your insurance provider.

Claims Reporting

On-the-job injuries must be reported at once to your employer. Remember, you need to prove that your injury happened while you’re on the job. The longer it takes for you to report it, the harder it will be to prove. Once you reported your injury to your employer, it is their responsibility to coordinate medical assistance through workers’ compensation.

While disability claims are initiated through your employer too, it’s not their responsibility to arrange for benefit payments. The insurance provider will typically pay you directly.

Can You Receive Both at the Same Time?

No, you can’t. Most disability insurance policies provide that lost wages for absences due to work-related injuries shall be covered by worker’s compensation. So if you qualify for worker’s comp, you’ll most likely be denied a disability benefit.

In the same vein, if you qualify for disability benefits, it just goes to prove that your injury isn’t work-related. As such, you’ll most likely be denied workers’ compensation.

Which Should You Apply For?

Obviously, if your injury happened at work, you should apply for workers comp. Otherwise, you go for disability benefits.

If only, it’s that simple. You see, choosing which benefit to apply for isn’t always that straightforward. In general, workers comp offers better benefits. But in certain instances, proving that your injury is work-related can be a real headache. But then again, if you choose to go with short-term disability insurance, the benefits will be lesser. Plus, you’ll be at the mercy of your insurance provider.

To make sure you get the benefits that you rightfully deserve, hire an experienced workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca. He has already helped thousands of injured workers in Florida fight for their benefits. He can help you too. Contact us now for a free consultation.


Victor Malca Law has over 25 years of litigation experience, we are the most trusted workers’ compensation lawyers in Florida. Our area of expertise is in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claim social security disability benefits.

Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are also recognized by our peers. Book a free consultation today.

Judy Ponio is a writer for Victor Malca LawAbout The Author

Judy Ponio is a writer for Victor Malca Law P.A. and enjoys helping people with questions about social security, workers compensation, and other serious matters involving people’s livelihood. She is not an attorney and her writing should not be considered legal advice.

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