You can get both workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time in Pennsylvania, although you may not be able to draw the full amount of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Most people who receive both of these types of benefits make too much money and have too many assets to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, could qualify for SSI if your workers’ compensation monthly payment is very small.
How Do Workers’ Compensation and SSDI Benefits Work Together?
You can draw both workers’ compensation and disability benefits at the same time because they are separate programs with different goals. However, they both help you make ends meet after you suffer a serious, disabling work injury.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) runs two primary programs: SSDI and SSI. These programs offer monthly benefits to help employees who can no longer work because of a long-term or permanent impairment that leaves them completely disabled for at least a year or more.
Workers’ compensation is a state-run or private program that offers employees medical coverage and cash benefits after an on-the-job injury or work-related illness. Even minor injuries might qualify for benefits. Major injuries that lead to long-term impairments often qualify for continued benefits even after the worker qualifies for SSDI or another disability program.
Can I Draw Full SSDI Benefits While Receiving Workers’ Compensation?
When you receive workers’ compensation or other public benefits, it may affect the amount of SSDI you can draw. This is known as the offset.
Under the SSA’s guidelines, the total amount of these benefits cannot be greater than 80 percent of your average earnings before you became disabled. While the SSA calculates this in a number of different ways, the most common method uses the average monthly payment from your top-earning year.
Understanding the Offset
If your total of these two types of benefits exceeds 80 percent of your average wages, the SSA will subtract the extra amount from your SSDI payments.
For example, imagine this scenario:
- Your previous wages total $4,000 per month; and
- Your disability benefits, including those for your spouse and children, equal $2,200 per month; and
- You receive $2,000 per month in workers’ compensation benefits.
In this scenario, your total benefits would equal $4,200 per month, which is $1,000 more than 80 percent of your previous wages. This means the SSA would only approve you for up to $1,200 per month. By doing this, the SSA offsets the workers’ compensation payment and ensures you draw only 80 percent of your previous wages.
Are There Ways to Reduce the Offset?
There may be ways to reduce or eliminate this offset, but this is probably not something you can handle on your own. The SSA has complex rules about how they treat this type of offset, and attempting to do this by yourself might cause problems with your benefits or actually increase the offset. We recommend you contact our office for a free case evaluation. Our legal team can look at the details of your situation and determine if we can use one of the following methods to reduce your offset.
Exclude Approved Expenses
The SSA allows you to deduct some fees if you have a workers’ compensation settlement before it considers the total to calculate your offset. This could include legal fees, medical expenses not covered by Medicare, rehabilitation and therapy costs, and other approved medical expenses. When you subtract future medical care costs from your payout before the SSA calculates the offset, it could greatly reduce it. Do not forget, though, to document all these approved expenses.
Spread out a Lump-Sum Payment
If you received a lump-sum workers’ compensation payment, it is not always possible to spread it out and calculate it like a monthly payment. However, it is worth discussing this option, because it can greatly reduce your offset. We might be able to help you with this, depending on the wording of your original settlement agreement with workers’ compensation.
Consider If Accepting Early Social Security Retirement Benefits
You can draw full workers’ compensation benefits at the same time as Social Security retirement benefits. In other words, there is no offset after you reach age 66, or if you opt to take retirement early. However, this is not always the best choice, since you do not receive full retirement benefits if you take them early. We can help you do the math and determine if early retirement makes financial sense for you and your family.
How Can I Discuss Workers’ Compensation With a Disability Attorney?
If you have questions about how drawing workers’ compensation benefits could affect your SSDI eligibility, call Berger and Green today. We offer free case evaluations and consultations.
If your impairment occurred as a result of someone’s negligence, you could qualify to file a personal injury claim. Our attorneys can help you understand if your accident and injury qualify for additional compensation.
You can reach a member of our legal team today at 412-661-1400.