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OHIO’S INJURY & SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY FIRM Workers' Compensation - Social Security Disability - Personal Injury

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Can I Apply for SSD Benefits While On Worker's Comp in Ohio?

January 25, 2021 by Robert L. Heller
Injured woman applying for SSD benefits in Ohio.

If you become disabled due to an occupational injury or illness, you may be unsure of whether you can obtain U.S. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time. The good news is that it’s entirely possible. However, navigating each benefits system isn’t easy, especially since many law firms do not handle cases that involve both at once.

Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill, Co., LPA is the only law firm in northeastern Ohio with the skill and resources to handle dual workers’ comp and SSDI benefits claims. Our SSDI and workers’ compensation attorneys have a deep knowledge of the state and federal laws that apply to both types of claims. We’ll put you in the best possible position to maximize the overall amount of compensation you can receive for your Ohio disability claim.

Call or contact us now to learn your legal options.

Can You Apply for SSDI While on Workers’ Comp in Ohio?

The short answer is yes. If you sustained a job injury or illness that left you unable to work in any substantial capacity for a significant period of time, you have the option to apply for SSDI benefits to supplement your workers’ compensation benefits. However, your application for SSDI benefits will only be approved if you are severely impaired and your condition is not expected to improve for one year or more.

You may qualify for both workers’ comp benefits and SSDI benefits if you suffer from any of the following work-related health conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Mesothelioma
  • Burns or dermal lesions
  • Vision or hearing loss
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Should I Apply for Social Security Disability Before or After a Workers’ Comp Settlement?

Let’s say you already know that you qualify for both workers’ comp benefits and SSDI benefits. Does it matter when you submit your SSDI application?

The answer is not straightforward. Although each benefits system is entirely separate, the payments you receive from one program could still have an effect on the benefits to which you are entitled from the other.

This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) imposes certain income-based limits on the SSDI benefits you are eligible to receive, and any workers’ comp benefits you collect are included in the calculation of your overall income.

There is no particular rule that says you must apply for SSDI benefits before or after your workers’ comp settlement, but if you’re seeking both kinds of benefits, it’s in your best interest to consult with a disability attorney who has experience handling both types of claims.

Can I Apply for Disability After a Workers’ Comp Settlement?

You can absolutely apply for SSDI benefits after you receive a workers’ comp settlement. Keep in mind that the nature of your settlement can have an impact on the SSDI benefits you are qualified to receive.

If the combined monthly income you would collect from your workers’ comp benefits and SSDI benefits exceeds the monthly earnings cap imposed by the SSA, the amount of SSDI benefits you receive would be reduced by an “offset.”

This layout of your workers’ comp settlement directly affects the magnitude of your potential SSDI benefits offset. For example, if you receive a structured monthly settlement that is paid out over only one or two years, your monthly income from that settlement may be so high that you exceed the SSA applicable limit and become ineligible to receive SSDI benefits on top of your workers’ comp settlement.

Woman in wheelchair reading her ssd claims.However, an attorney may be able to structure your settlement so that you receive the payments over a longer period of time. This means that your monthly income from your workers’ compensation benefits may be much lower, allowing you to collect more in SSDI benefits.

Will My Settlement Affect My Disability Benefits?

SSA guidelines limit the amount of combined income you are eligible to receive from both workers’ comp and SSDI benefits. The applicable limit is the higher of either:

  • 80 percent of your average pre-disability earnings
  • The total amount of workers’ comp benefits that the injured worker’s family receives in the first month of receiving workers’ compensation

For example, let’s say that your average weekly income before your occupational injury was $500, which works out to $2,000 in monthly income. If your applicable limit falls under the 80 percent rule, this would mean that the maximum amount of monthly SSDI benefits you could receive would be 80 percent of that $2,000, or $1,600.

Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws limit weekly benefit payments to two-thirds of your pre-injury wages after the first 12 weeks of payments, which means that your weekly workers’ comp benefits based on a $500-per-week income would be $333.33 and your monthly benefit payment would work out to $1333.33.

Since the maximum combined amount of workers’ comp and SSDI benefits you would be eligible to receive each month is $1,600, the most you could receive after your SSDI benefits offset would be $266.66 ($1,600 minus $1,333.33), even if you were technically entitled to more.

Because the calculations process is complicated, it’s beneficial to work with an experienced attorney who understands the interplay between federal SSDI regulations and Ohio workers’ compensation laws and how they could impact your claim.

Will a Workers’ Comp Settlement Affect My SSDI?

Since your SSDI benefits could be offset by your workers’ comp settlement, you may be wondering what you can do to maximize your payouts from each benefits system. One exception that your attorney may be able to help you take advantage of is the “Sciarrotta Allocation.”

The Sciarrotta Allocation allows workers’ comp and SSDI benefit recipients to structure their settlements in such a way that minimizes the amount of money the SSA can withhold from their benefits payments in offsets.

To achieve this, you would work with your attorney to spread out your workers’ comp settlement payments over the course of your projected life expectancy. By distributing these payments over a longer term, your subsequent monthly income totals from workers’ comp benefits would be much lower, which would entitle you to receive more in monthly SSDI benefits before hitting the SSA’s earnings cap.

Contact Us Today for Help With Your Ohio Workers’ Comp and SSDI Claims

The intersection between workers’ compensation and SSDI law can be difficult to understand, but there are ways that an attorney can help figure out the best way to time and structure each type of settlement. At Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill, Co., LPA, our dedicated northeastern Ohio disability lawyers will work hard to maximize the amount of compensation you can recover from each benefits system.

Getting started right away puts you on the quickest path to benefits. Call or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.

About the Author

Robert L. Heller
Robert L. Heller has practiced law in Ohio for nearly 40 years, devoting his entire career to helping disabled people in the Mahoning Valley to pursue needed benefits. A native of Warren, Ohio, Robert earned his undergraduate degree from Miami University of Ohio and his law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law. He also studied public administration at American University in Washington, D.C. He is admitted to practice in Ohio state courts, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals as well as a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives (NOSSCR).

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