The short answer is “yes” you can get both at the same time, but there is an interplay between the two, and, in the typical situation, the amount of social security disability benefits an injured worker receives is going to be reduced by some amount. Federal rules provide that the combination of worker’s compensation benefits, and social security disability benefits, combined, cannot be more than 80% of the injured person’s “average current earnings”. That figure, in turn, is calculated by one of three methods.
- the average monthly wage on which the unindexed disability primary insurance amount is based,
- the average monthly earnings from covered employment and self-employment during the highest 5 consecutive years after 1950, or
- the average monthly earnings in the calendar year of highest earnings from covered employment during the 5 years ending with the year in which disability began. 1
Total/Gross income is used. The following are not included as earnings: VA benefits, private insurance and pensions, needs based benefits, and some state disability benefits. 2
The Social Security Administration offers this illustrative example:
"Example: Before you became disabled, your average earnings were $4,000 a month. You, your spouse, and your two children would be eligible to receive a total of $2,200 a month in Social Security disability benefits. You also receive $2,000 a month from workers’ compensation. Because the total amount of benefits you would receive ($4,200) is more than 80 percent ($3,200) 3 (over) of your average current earnings ($4,000), your family’s Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1,000 ($4,200 - $3,200)."
Ok. So that is the general rule. However, some states utilize what is known a “reverse offset” arrangement. In this scenario, the workers' compensation benefits have already been discounted to take social security into account, so that social security is not offset if the injured worker then receives workers’ compensation. 3
I've handled hundreds of contested workers compensation cases throughout the years. If you have been hurt at work, or have questions about the benefits to which you might be entitled, or, have benefits due to you that are being wrongfully withheld, I would urge you to contact me today. I utilize an initial case analysis evaluation process and strategy conference for all injured workers, and I extend this process free of charge.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 9/3/20.