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How does workers’ compensation affect Social Security Disability?

| Nov 8, 2022 | Firm News

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can provide much-needed income to Indiana residents who are no longer able to work for a living due to an injury. Indiana’s workers’ compensation system can do something similar.

If you are permanently disabled because of a work-related injury, you may be able to collect benefits from both programs. However, your total amount of benefits will be limited.

In this blog post, we will provide an introduction to these programs and discuss how they interact.

Workers’ compensation and disability

The Indiana workers’ compensation system is meant to help workers who have been injured on the job. After being injured at work, a worker notifies their employer and the employer’s insurer should provide benefits that pay for the worker’s medical care related to the injury.

If the injury is serious enough that the worker will be unable to return to work for at least 30 days, they may be eligible for Short-Term Disability or Long-Term Disability benefits. These go beyond paying for medical costs and actually provide income for injured workers who are unable to earn an income by working. The amount of these benefits is calculated as a percentage of the injured worker’s earnings before they were injured.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance can also provide benefits for people who are no longer able to work for a living due to an injury, but the program is otherwise quite different from workers’ compensation. Most importantly, SSDI doesn’t require that the injury occurred in the course of the person’s employment.

What’s more, if you are collecting SSDI benefits, they aren’t coming from your employer or your employer’s insurer; they are coming from the federal government. If your injury or illness qualifies you for the benefits, and if you have worked long enough to pay into the system, and if your application is approved, then you can receive benefits. The benefit amount will be based on a percentage of your pre-injury earnings.

Combining the two

So, if you are getting, say, 80% of your old salary through workers’ compensation, can you also get 80% of your old salary through SSDI? If so, that would give you 160% of your old salary. No doubt many of us would welcome this kind of income.

For better or worse, it doesn’t work that way.

You can receive both SSDI benefits and other public benefits at the same time. This includes workers’ compensation. However, the Social Security Administration will offset your benefit amount, depending on the amount you receive in the other benefits. Altogether, the benefit amounts you receive from SSDI and other government programs cannot exceed 80% of the average earnings you made before you were injured.

It’s important to note that benefits from private sources such as private disability insurance or pensions won’t affect your SSDI benefits. SSDI also exempts certain public benefits programs, such as Veterans Administration benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Certain state and local benefits programs can be exempt if Social Security taxes were deducted from your paychecks.

Maximize your benefits

If you are disabled and unable to work, you need all the help you can get. Attorneys with experience in SSDI and other benefits programs help their clients find ways to maximize their benefits.