social security disability and worker's compensation

Federal regulations call for a possible offset against Social Security disability benefits by certain public payments, worker's compensation being the most prevalent. Once you have been granted disability benefits, Social Security will see if you have received or are receiving worker's compensation. The amount that Social Security will offset the disability benefits will take into consideration the disability benefit, the net (after attorney's fees and costs, if any) worker's compensation benefit, and the highest average earning month for the five years prior to disability or a five year consecutive earning monthly average, whichever is highest. The formula used is not difficult but the important thing to remember is that the offset is based upon the net worker's compensation received by the individual.

If an individual has received a worker's compensation lump settlement, Social Security will amortize that settlement based upon the settlement language. Any worker's compensation attorney "worth their salt" will structure the settlement document to outline the amount Social Security should use for any potential offset. Our firm does that on every settlement whether the claimant is receiving or potentially will be receiving disability benefits or not. If that language is not placed in the settlement document, Social Security has a formula they use to determine the effect of the settlement which is rarely beneficial to the claimant.

There are people, including some Social Security employees who may tell you that a person cannot receive Social Security disability benefits and worker's compensation at the same time. This is untrue. A Social Security recipient could receive all, part, or none of his/her disability benefit depending on the worker's compensation offset. It is also important to know that a disability recipient may receive their full disability benefits but their dependents may have an offset based upon the same formula.

If there are questions concerning the amount of benefit you should receive with respect to a worker's compensation offset, do not rely on the information given by the Social Security Administration, consult an attorney who understands both systems.