Disabling injuries can occur anywhere, but it is not uncommon for workplace injuries to cause a total disability from all work. When someone is hurt at work, they should file a claim for workers compensation benefits without delay. There are time limits to how long someone can wait before they apply for workers compensation, and if that time expires, they may forfeit their rights to receive these benefits (Indiana residents can learn how to apply for workers compensation here.
You Can Get Social Security and Workers' Comp Benefits at the Same Time
If a worker remains disabled for an expected duration of 12 months or longer, it also makes sense for them to file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. It is a misconception that just because you qualify for workers' compensation benefits, you will be unable to receive Social Security disability benefits. Rather, it is possible to receive both workers' compensation benefits as well as Social Security disability benefits at the same time.
That said, receiving workers' compensation benefits can affect the amount of Social Security benefits that are paid. Private short term and long-term disability benefits do not impact the amount of Social Security disability benefits someone can receive. Workers' compensation, though, may reduce the amount of Social Security benefits received. The rule of thumb is if workers' compensation benefits and Social Security benefits combined exceed 80% of your average current earnings, the excess amount is deducted from the Social Security benefit.
How Much Can You Receive in Benefits from Workers' Comp and Social Security?
The Social Security Administration’s rationale is that a disabled worker should not receive more money when they are disabled compared to when they were working. Instead, the Social Security Administration limits the total “public benefits” to a total of 80% of the disabled worker’s average current earnings.
For example: a worker earns $3,000 per month (on average), but they are injured on the job and collect both workers' compensation benefits and Social Security disability benefits. 80% of $3,000 is $2,400. If the worker is typically eligible to receive $1,800 per month from Social Security, but already receives $2,000 in workers' compensation benefits, then their Social Security benefit may be reduced from $1,800 to $400.
If the workers' compensation benefits stop, then the Social Security benefits can be restored to the normal amount. If workers' compensation benefits cease, you should contact Social Security right away to update them with this change. Workers' compensation settlements may also impact Social Security disability benefits depending on how the settlement is paid out. If the workers' compensation settlement is paid out over a longer duration of time, the reduction of Social Security benefits may be minimized. It is important to talk to a workers' compensation attorney about a possible settlement and how that settlement may impact Social Security benefits.
Let Our Social Security Lawyers Help with Your Claim
While Keller & Keller does not practice in the area of workers' compensation benefits, we would like to provide a free case evaluation to any disabled workers who are looking to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.