SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE

Many people have been forced out of permanent employee positions and have had to find work as self-employed or contract workers. A contract worker’s eligibility for workers’ compensation and Social Security disability is not the same as they were when he or she was a full- or a part-time permanent employee of a company. It is important to understand the eligibility requirements and know how to take action if your claim is denied for any reason.

Job-Related Accidents and Injuries That Lead to Disability

The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration tracks statistics related to injuries, accidents, and deaths that happen to workers on the job. In 2016, 5,120 people were killed on the job. An estimated 2,857,400 nonfatal injuries and illnesses caused by paid employment were also reported in 2016. Some of the most common injuries include slip and falls, trips, contusions, and concussions. The most common causes of the injuries include falling, getting struck by an object, getting caught between immense items, and electrocution. When an injury is so severe that a person cannot be expected to return to paid employment within six to 12 months, it is natural for him or her to file a claim for workers’ compensation or Social Security disability insurance. While the pathway is clear for permanent employees of a company, the situation is not as obvious for contract workers or people who are self-employed but doing paid work for a business. In these situations, it is important for you to contact a job accident lawyer for a consultation.

Social Security Disability Eligibility for Contract and Self-Employed Individuals

As long as you have properly filed your federal taxes with a Schedule SE for the time that you have been self-employed or working as a contractor, you should be eligible for Social Security disability payments. Your payments of self-employment taxes (SECA) give you the same eligibility for all parts of Social Security just as if a traditional employer was paying FICA taxes on your behalf. The Social Security Administration processes the eligibility of self-employed workers using the “three tests.”

  • Significant services: If you are the only person in your self-employed business, what you do is automatically considered significant.
  • Substantial income: The level of substantial income is $1,180 per month. The Social Security Administration may accept a lower level if your salary is similar to what non-disabled people in your community make or if it is similar to what other individuals earn in your field
  • Countable income: If you can no longer earn $1,180 per month, this may make you eligible.

Workers’ Compensation Eligibility for Contract and Self-Employed Workers

Under New Jersey law, most individuals who perform paid work for a business are eligible for workers’ compensation. It would be paid out by the company’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. Under the law, the term “employee” includes:

  • Day workers
  • Leased employees
  • Borrowed employees
  • Subcontractors
  • Part-time employees
  • Unpaid volunteers

A workers’ compensation judge would make the final determination as to whether a person is considered to be an employee of a company even if he or she gets injured performing work for the company.

Eligibility If You Have Left the Workforce for a While

Not all situations are clear when it comes to eligibility for Social Security disability or workers’ compensation. For example, if you have just returned to self-employment after being a stay-at-home parent for the previous 10 years, you may not be eligible even if you pass the three tests or are considered to be an employee through the above criteria. This is because the Social Security Administration requires that you have worked 20 out of the past 40 quarters in order to be eligible for disability benefits.

Appealing a Claim Denial

If your claim for Social Security disability or workers’ compensation has been denied, it may help to have an attorney working on your behalf. We know what to expect throughout the appeals process, and we can explain how these types of compensation cases usually work. Our workers’ compensation lawyer at the Voorhees Law Office is ready to listen to your situation. Call us at (908) 200-2297 to schedule a consultation. You may also visit our location in Somerville to make your appointment with our workers’ comp lawyer. We can also be reached via email at craig@voorheeslawnj.com.

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