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Will Workers’ Compensation Affect My Social Security Disability Payments?

Workers’ Compensation

In California, workers compensation is a state benefit for workers who suffer work-related injuries.  On the job injuries can include a one-time traumatic event (such as suffering an injured knee from a fall or a back injury from lifting a heavy object) or a repetitive use/cumulative trauma injury that has developed over time (such as carpal tunnel syndrome).

Social Security Disability  Benefits

In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, an individual may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits.  Social Security Disability benefits are issued through the Social Security Administration under a federal program for disabled people who meet their rules.

In most cases, workers’ compensation benefits are meant to be paid out on a temporary basis (even though these benefits can last for years).  Whereas Social Security Disability benefits are available to injured workers and others, who are permanently disabled. You may qualify for one or the other, or both benefits.

Limitations on Receiving Benefits for Both Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability

Although a worker injured on the job may be eligible to collect benefits under both the state workers’ compensation system and the federal Social Security Disability program, there are certain limitations to the total amount of disability money an injured worker may receive.  Under federal law, the Social Security Administration is allowed an offset or deduction for what it pays an injured worker if the injured worker is receiving workers’ compensation. In most circumstances, the Social Security Administration will reduce its monthly payment to the injured worker so that the combined total benefits do not exceed 80% of the injured workers Average Current Earnings (ACE).

In most circumstances, the injured worker’s ACE is considered to be their highest annual earnings for the five-year period leading up to their disability onset date.  This is then divided by 12 months. If the total combined disability benefits the injured worker receives between workers’ compensation and Social Security disability, is greater than eighty percent of their ACE, the Social Security Administration will reduce its payments in order to bring the injured worker’s total benefits down to eighty percent of their ACE.  The workers’ compensation benefits would remain the same.

If you are receiving both workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits and your Social Security benefits were reduced to keep the combined disability benefits under the eighty percent threshold, you can contact the Social Security Administration when your workers’ compensation benefits end. The Social Security Administration can then adjust your benefits, by increasing your Social Security disability payment to the correct rate.

Requirements for Qualifying for Social Security Disability

In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, you must be unable to perform any job you were able to perform in the past 15 years.  The Social Security Administration must also make a determination that you are unable to perform other types of work that someone with your physical and mental abilities and your level of education could perform.

You must have worked and paid into the social security system. In most circumstances you must have worked at least five out of the last ten years to qualify for these benefits.  Young and older workers tend to have less strict requirements than workers between the ages of thirty and fifty.


Get Legal Help

These matters can be complicated. Contact Chico Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Attorneys, Heather L. Siles and Steven J. Foster at 530-898-9600 for a free consultation on either your workers’ compensation and/or Social Security Disability Claim.  Or visit our website at The Law Offices of Siles and Foster, have been handling these claims for over 20 years and are Certified Legal Specialists in Workers’ Compensation.

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