It's possible to collect receive workers' compensation benefits and Social Security disability (SSD) benefits at the same time. However, the two programs have different requirements for approval, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) can reduce your SSDI benefits by the amount of your workers' comp benefits. This is known as the workers' comp offset.
You can receive for Social Security disability benefits only if your impairment is severe and is expected to last a year or more, preventing you from doing any kind of substantial work. (Learn more about the eligibility requirements for SSDI and SSI.)
Each state workers' comp program has its own eligibility rules. In general, in order to be approved you'll need to show that you suffered a work-related injury or illness that kept you from working for a certain period of time. (Read more about workers' comp eligibility rules.)
While the two benefit systems are completely separate—SSD and SSI are standardized federal programs, while workers' compensation laws differ state to state—the Social Security Administration (SSA) may lower your disability payments by the amount of your workers' compensation benefits, by taking what's called an "offset."
The purpose of the offset, according to the SSA, is to make sure that the combined benefits from SSDI and workers' comp are not "excessive."
In the case of lump-sum workers' comp settlements, SSA will deduct a prorated amount that reflects the monthly rate that would have been paid in the absence of a settlement.
If you've receive workers' comp payments as reimbursement for legal or medical expenses, Social Security should exclude those when computing the offset.
It's always a good idea for your workers' comp or SSDI attorney to double-check that you're receiving the correct amount of each benefit, as these calculations can sometimes be tricky.
An individual seeking both types of benefits may gain advantage from the input of a workers' compensation attorney since timing issues regarding an SSD claim can, in some cases, affect a workers' comp claim.
You might want to choose an attorney who can handle both types of claims, though very often, attorneys will handle only one or the other -- that is, either Social Security disability cases or workers' compensation cases. However, either type of attorney should be able to advise you on whether your disability benefits would be reduced by workers' comp benefits.
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