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

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How Will My Workers’ Comp Payments Affect My Social Security Disability Payments?

May 5, 2021 by Joseph A. Moro
An injured woman worries her workers' comp payments will impact her SSD payments.

If you have been receiving workers’ compensation for an occupational injury or illness that you have learned will have a permanent effect on your ability to work, you may be considering an application for Social Security Disability benefits. But you may have been cautioned that a workers’ comp settlement could hurt your SSD claim.

You need to be aware of how the two systems – one state and one federal – work together. To ensure you receive the full benefits available to you by law in Ohio, you should consult an attorney from Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill, an Ohio disability law firm.

Your SSD benefits may be reduced to account for the payments you receive from a workers’ compensation claim. But a qualified lawyer can work to minimize the impact of workers’ comp benefits on your total SSD benefits. Contact us to find out how.

Can I Receive Workers’ Comp and Social Security Benefits at the Same Time in OH?

You can receive workers’ compensation payments and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time. But there is a catch known as the “workers’ compensation offset.”

Under federal law, if you receive workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits, the total amount of the benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings before you became disabled. To meet this requirement, your SSD payment may be reduced.

The workers’ compensation offset does not apply if you’re receiving Social Security retirement benefits. It also does not affect:

But SSD may be reduced if you receive workers’ comp. Workers’ compensation is a state-administered no-fault insurance program for workers who are employed and become injured on the job or develop a work-related illness. Workers’ compensation insurance pays 100% of medical bills and about 66% of lost wages while the worker recovers from his or her injury. It also provides payments for permanent disability and certain disfiguring injuries, as well as a death benefit to surviving family members who have lost a loved one in a fatal work-related injury.

Social Security Disability is a benefit available to workers who have been injured or become ill and are unable to continue to work for a living. Recipients must have worked long enough and recently enough to have earned the benefit. They also must have a disabling condition that meets the definition of disability, according to Social Security Administration guidelines.

To qualify as disabled under Social Security rules, your injury or illness must match an impairment in the Social Security Administration’s “Listing of Impairments” or be judged to be equivalent to an impairment listed. To qualify for monthly SSD payments, you must also have worked and paid Social Security taxes during at least five of the 10 years prior to becoming disabled.

How Workers’ Comp Affects Social Security Disability Benefits in Ohio

If you have qualified to receive workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may reduce your SSD so that, at the most, your total monthly benefit equals 80% of what you earned when fully employed. In some cases, your combined benefit could be even less.

To decide whether an offset is required, the SSA determines the “applicable limit” of your total monthly combined disability benefit. Your applicable limit is the higher of either:

  • 80% of your pre-injury income, or
  • the total amount of SSD benefits received by all members of your family in the first month that you received workers’ comp. This is known as the “total family benefit.”

If your combined SSD and workers’ comp benefits for any given month exceed 80% of your pre-injury average earnings or total family benefit, the SSA will reduce your SSD payment.

To apply for SSD, you must report your workers’ comp settlement as well as any other disability payments you receive, such as from private insurance.

How Can I Maximize My Disability Benefits in Ohio?

The Social Security Administration uses a variety of formulas to calculate your average current earnings. Which formula they use depends on your specific circumstances. With some planning, there are ways to minimize any offset of SSD benefits. We can look at your SSD claim as well as your workers’ compensation case and calculate the most effective strategy in your case.

Here are the most common approaches to maximizing your disability benefit:

  • Taking retirement benefits. If you have reached retirement age (as early as age 62), it may be as simple as starting to draw Social Security retirement benefits. Your SSD benefit ends once you start taking retirement, but remember, retirement benefits don’t have any impact on your workers’ comp payment. Of course, your Social Security retirement benefit increases the later you take it, so we’d consider the difference between your benefit now and later and your SSD benefit to determine whether this is a viable approach to avoiding a workers’ comp SSD offset.
  • Claiming deductions. Some parts of a workers’ compensation settlement can be excluded from payments added up to determine your total disability benefit. Among them are medical expenses not covered by Medicare, rehab fees, attorney’s fees, and benefits your dependents receive. Many people overlook these deductions, but saving receipts so you can report eligible expenses to the SSA can reduce your workers’ comp benefit and reduce or eliminate an offset.
  • Structuring lump sum payments. In the eyes of the SSA, a workers’ comp “lump sum” settlement defines the total amount of the benefit, not how it is paid out. We can work to have your settlement worded to say payments are to be spread out evenly until you reach full retirement age, though you receive one payment. Such an “amortization provision” may be part of an original settlement agreement, not a judge’s order, and not added to a prior settlement later.

Let Our Ohio Disability Benefits Attorneys Help

The experienced disability lawyers of Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill, Co., L.P.A., are proud to help disabled people in the Mahoning Valley and Northeastern Ohio maximize the disability benefits available to you under state and federal law. We are dedicated to making the system work for you. Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

About the Author

Joseph A. Moro
The son of a Youngstown steelworker who worked himself in steel mills as a young man, Joseph A. Moro is acutely aware of the challenges that working people face and the dire impacts that injuries and impairments can have on them and their families. After he earned his undergraduate degree from Youngstown State University and his law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Joseph has largely dedicated his practice to handling workers' compensation and personal injury cases. He is a fluent Spanish speaker who is certified as a Workers’ Compensation Specialist by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) as well as a certified Veterans Affairs Representative. He currently serves as the OAJ Regional Representative for Youngstown-Warren and on the OSBA Workers’ Compensation Specialty Board.

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