Can I Get Workers’ Compensation and VA Disability?
This confusion is understandable since both workers’ compensation and VA disability are meant to replace lost wages and pay medical bills, albeit in different ways. But to answer this question, yes, you can get VA disability and workers’ compensation benefits, sometimes for the same injury or illness. Benefits have declined in both cases in recent years. Adjusted for inflation, workers’ compensation lost wage replacement benefits peaked in the 1960s.
So, what’s the difference? Workers’ compensation arises from illness or injury that occurs while the recipient is at work, while VA disability benefits compensate for illness or injury that arises during active-duty military service.
Workers’ compensation and VA disability benefits have something else in common. The initial denial rate is very high in both cases. Usually, a VA disability attorney files an appeal to help Veterans get the compensation they need and deserve. Frequently, the appeals process is long, and the road is winding. However, we’re with you until the end of the line. Additionally, the final award usually includes back pay. In many cases, that back pay could be thousands of dollars.
Like VA disability, workers’ compensation replaces lost wages and pays medical bills. It is a state-run program, so the exact rules and benefits vary across the U.S.
In California, for example, the following benefits are available in successful workers’ comp claims:
- Medical care for the condition caused by work
- Temporary disability benefits, or lost wages while you recover
- Permanent disability benefits, if you don’t recover completely
- Supplemental job displacement benefits (after 2004) to pay for vocational training if you don’t recover completely or return to your employer
- Death benefits to your family if you die from a work-related condition
Note that independent contractors are not covered under workers’ comp laws.
Generally, workers’ compensation pays two-thirds of a victim’s “average weekly wage” for the duration of a temporary or permanent disability. These benefits also cover “reasonably necessary” medical expenses.
Disputes often arise concerning the victim’s AWW as well as what medical bills are reasonably necessary. Similar issues affect many VA disability claims.
AWW calculation requires more than a calendar and a calculator: The AWW can be more than the average of a victim’s last six or eight paychecks. Since many people change jobs frequently, average prior wages may not reflect average current wages. Additionally, the AWW includes irregular and non-cash compensation, like overtime and per diem.
As for reasonably necessary medical bills, victims and insurance adjusters often have different views as to what’s reasonable and what isn’t. Insurance adjusters may quickly approve the cheapest treatment method. However, the cheapest method may not be the best method, which is what is needed to get the patient back to work quickly.
Workers’ comp attorneys specialize in navigating these claims, and can help by developing medical evidence, negotiating a settlement with your employer, and represent you at hearings before a workers’ comp commission.
VA benefits are available if a veteran has a condition that was caused by or arose during active duty service. That is also known as a “service-connected disability”. Veterans get monthly cash payments, depending on the level of severity of their condition. Veterans also get free medical care at VA hospitals. Unlike workers’ compensation, VA disability benefits are only available for permanent disabilities, or are paid only during a period of disability. The VA requires annual checkups that determine if the veteran’s condition has improved — if there is a change, payments are adjusted.
A compensation and pension (C&P) medical examination, performed by a VA doctor, usually determines the nature and extent of the disability. Veterans are entitled to a second opinion from an independent physician at their own cost. Service records can establish the service-related aspect of these claims. In the absence of such records, statements from the veteran or people who know them are also admissible.
A VA disability attorney can represent you in disability appeals if you don’t receive the compensation you deserve. They will know what medical evidence is necessary to prove your claim and can ensure you meet deadlines so you don’t lose on a technicality.
As mentioned, workers’ compensation and VA disability sometimes overlap. For example, a veteran may be receiving compensation for a knee disability related to service. If they fall at work and the knee injury becomes more severe, workers’ comp would likely be available in addition to the VA benefits.
Reach Out to Dedicated Attorneys
An attorney is a valuable partner in all phases of a disability claim. For a free consultation with an experienced Veterans disability lawyer, contact Cameron Firm, P.C. at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box to your right. We are here to represent Veterans nationwide.
This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.