Many people ask about the difference between Workers Compensation benefits and Social Security Disability Benefits (“SSDI”). While there are certainly differences between them, what many people don’t think to ask is whether you can collect from both programs at the same time. The answer might surprise you.
If you have been injured at work and have or are receiving Workers’ Compensation, you may also be eligible for disability payments under Social Security’s SSDI program. Because there are no asset limitations for SSDI, getting Workers Compensation payments does not automatically preclude you from qualifying for SSDI. However, that does not mean that there will be no impact on any potential SSDI benefits.
In most situations, Social Security requires that SSDI benefits be reduced or “offset” so that the total monthly amount that a disabled worker receives is no more than 80% of the amount she/he earned when she/he was fully employed (“average current earnings”). In order to calculate the offset amount, Social Security will first determine the maximum total monthly amount of combined benefits that the recipient is allowed to get under federal law. This is known as the “applicable limit.” If, in any given month, a claimant receives money exceeding the applicable limit, then Social Security will offset SSDI payments in the amount required to bring the total back down to the applicable limit. An offset is most common among individuals who earned lower incomes when they were working. This is due to the fact that their applicable limits are lower and more easily exceeded once the worker starts to receive both SSDI and workers compensation.
You may know “someone on disability,” but what does that mean?
Many people may not be aware that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) oversees a program for individuals who are unable to work due to medical impairments. The program is a lifeline for those who are unable to work, mostly through no fault of their own.
This includes people who have physical impairments such as a back injury as well as mental impairments like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). At the same time, it doesn’t matter whether your impairment, whether mental or physical, happened at the job. It also doesn’t matter whether your impairment happened suddenly or was something that happened over time.