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Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits

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Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits

Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits

By Jan Hoen

There are two government programs available for qualifying employees who are injured at work, both of which pay financial benefits in the event of disability. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the federal program, while the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission administers the state version for disability. The eligibility regulations are quite complicated, but it is possible for the victim of a work-related injury or illness to qualify for both programs. Due to the overlap, there is a common assumption that you can receive benefits for both; however, there are limitations and restrictions for this type of “double-dipping.” If you become disabled from a medical condition you sustained while on the job, it is important to speak with a Hampton workers’ compensation attorney about the SSDI offset that applies when you receive amounts under Virginia’s laws.

How the SSDI Workers’ Compensation Offset Works

Federal law provides for a reduction of SSDI benefits when you also file and receive benefits under a state workers’ comp claim. The exact amount of the offset depends upon your specific circumstances, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) starts by calculating the maximum amount of benefits you can receive.

The total amount you received monthly before you became disabled because of a work-related injury, is your “Average Current Earnings.” SSA looks at three figures:

  • Your average monthly wage for purposes of SSDI;
  • Your average monthly earnings during the five consecutive years that you earned the most income; and,
  • Your highest monthly average from any one year in the previous five years.

The highest of these three amounts is multiplied by 80% to obtain your Average Current Earnings.

Your “Total Family Benefit” is the amount of SSDI benefits received by your entire family during the first month that you received workers’ compensation benefits.

Your Applicable Limit Amount

The SSA considers the higher of the above amounts to be your “Applicable Limit.” In most cases, your Average Current Earnings will be higher and will be the basis for calculating the SSDI offset amount. If your workers’ compensation benefits and SSDI benefits combined are greater than the Applicable Limit, your SSDI is reduced to be equal in amount to the Applicable Limit.

For practical purposes, you should note that you are more likely to be subject to the SSDI offset if your pre-injury income was lower. By receiving both SSDI and workers’ compensation benefits, you will reach the Applicable Limit more often. Another important factor to understand is that the SSDI offset only applies to the wage loss benefits you receive for workers’ compensation. Amounts you receive for medical costs related to treating your work-related illness are a separate matter.

Talk to a Hampton Workers’ Compensation Lawyer About the SSDI Offset

While this overview of the workers’ compensation offset for SSDI is useful, the regulations are still very complicated. It is wise to retain a skilled attorney to assist with the process, so please contact Hampton Injury Law for more information or to schedule an initial consultation. You can reach Mr. Hoen by calling 757.838.1136 or visiting the firm’s website.

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