What are my options when my worker’s compensation benefits overlap with Social Security disability?

Collecting Social Security and workers’ comp benefits at the same time is challenging but possibleWhen you’re permanently and severely injured as a result of a workplace accident, you may be entitled to both workers’ compensation benefits as well as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. However—before you get too excited and start writing off bills—grouping benefit options can be difficult and not necessarily additive.

For instance, let’s say you develop COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) from noxious fumes at work. You pursue and are granted workers’ compensation in the form of medical reimbursement and an additional $700 a month. COPD is a qualifying disease for SSDI consideration. So, let’s say that instead of workers’ comp, you pursue and are granted disability to the amount of $1,200 a month. Now, since your condition is eligible for both workers’ comp and disability, you’d think that if you were to apply for both and group them together, you’d receive $1,900 a month (the sum of the two amounts you’d receive when pursuing them separately). However, this isn’t the case.

Benefit Pairing Revisions

State and federal laws limit the amount of money an injury can accrue from institutions, i.e., workers’ comp (WC) and SSA disability. These laws do not prohibit pairing your benefits, but the require that your benefit levels be recalculated. This practice is called an “offset.”

When an injury or condition develops as a direct result of a workplace accident or employer negligence, a good attorney will guide you through the following basic process for benefit approval:

  • File a workers’ comp claim. Your attorney will use workers’ compensation laws to secure standard benefits before pursuing disability.
     
  • File a disability claim. Once your workers’ comp benefits are calculated, your attorney will advise you to include any and all claim information (date of approval, amount of compensation) when filing for disability. In fact, the SSA requires this information within your claim in order to determine eligibility and calculate the workers’ compensation offset.

Calculating the Offset

In most situations, disability benefits (if approved) will be reduced so that the total monthly amount awarded is no more than 80% of the applicant’s income before the accident. This is known as the applicable limit or the maximum amount of benefits that can be received.

If the awarded amount exceeds the applicable limit, then the disability benefits will be adjusted and reduced to maintain balance.

In Florida, “reverse offset” calculations also apply. Reverse offset means that instead of the SSA adjusting disability benefits based on workers’ comp, workers’ comp benefits are adjusted based on disability. In these situations, the advice and guidance of a skilled Florida disability attorney can help you decide how to proceed.

Contact our Ormond Beach office today to ensure that your rights are upheld while exploring all avenues of compensation for your injury.

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