Typically, a person who has been injured at work will be entitled to some type of Workers’ Compensation (WC) benefits, especially if they can’t go back to the job. If the injury is so severe that the worker cannot do any type of job, they might also be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Most, however, won’t receive the full benefit from both programs at the same time. The law says the combination of both benefits can’t be over 80 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage before the accident. The Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates how much to reduce the individual’s SSDI benefit based on the WC benefit.
“This reduction is called the ‘offset,’ “ said Christopher J. Grover, attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “Offsets between workers’ comp and SSDI get complicated and can change month-to-month because the workers’ comp payments can be increased or decreased on a monthly basis.”
While SSDI eligibility is based on a worker’s inability to work at all, WC benefits are based on a percentage scale. A person on WC could be 20-, 50-, 80– or even 100-percent disabled. The rules are also complicated for beneficiaries who get a lump-sum settlement for WC benefits.
“Lump-sum workers’ comp settlements are awarded in place of ongoing monthly benefits and are still calculated for the ‘offset’ by the SSA,” Grover said. “To get the most out of both benefit programs, it’s critical to have an attorney who understands both systems look over your situation.”