Many employees who collect workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois soon discover that their payments often fall far short of the true costs of their injuries. Fortunately, there are other forms of state and federal benefits that can help injured workers who are struggling after an accident on the job.
State and Federal Benefit Programs for Injured Workers in Illinois
Under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act, an employee who suffers an injury on the job is owed full payment for medical treatment until he or she fully recovers from the injury. Employees also have a right to wage loss benefits, travel reimbursement, and any vocational retraining necessary to bring the employee back to the workforce. However, in some cases, these benefits are insufficient to restore employees back to the state they were in before the injury occurred.
Workers who have sustained significant disability and financial hardship may qualify from additional benefit programs, including:
- Social Security disability. Social Security is a federal program that provides retirement and disability funds to people who are unable to earn a sustainable living. If a worker meets the Social Security’s definition of disability, he or she may qualify to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in addition to workers’ comp payments. While benefits may be capped for claimants getting both forms of benefits, any reduction in Social Security benefits will be restored when the claimant reaches retirement age or is no longer receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
- The Public Employee Disability Act. The Illinois Public Employee Disability Act gives greater protection to certain employees who face dangerous conditions for the public good, including police officers, firefighters, prison guards, and employees of the Department of Human Services and state-operated mental health facilities. When these workers are injured on the job, they are entitled to receive their full regular earnings for up to a year for temporary total disability, and they are also protected from losing accrued sick and vacation time, comp time, or service credits while they are recovering from their injuries.
- Pension benefits. Employees with pension benefits may have a harder time collecting workers’ compensation benefits due to the intersection of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (IWCA), the Illinois Pension Code, and the Public Employee Disability Act. Depending on the laws that apply, employees may receive both types of benefits, be forced to retire early, or choose between these types of benefits. In these situations, employees should seek the advice of an attorney to preserve eligibility for permanent total disability, partial disability, or survivor benefits under workers’ compensation.