Sunday, May 20, 2012

Does Workers’ Compensation Affect My Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) Benefits?

Under the Social Security rules, the total amount of your workers’ compensation benefits and social security benefits cannot exceed eighty percent (80%) of your average monthly earnings before you became disabled.

If your combined benefits exceed 80% of your pre-disability average monthly earnings, your social security benefits likely will be reduced. Minnesota workers’ compensation wage loss benefits are paid at a rate of 2/3 or 66.6% of your average weekly wage (AWW) at the time of your injury. For most people receiving both workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits, your social security benefits will be reduced, but not entirely offset.

When a workers’ compensation case is settled, we usually incorporate what we refer to as “Social Security” language into the Stipulation for Settlement, or the document that sets forth the terms of the settlement. In essence, this language prorates the lump sum settlement over the employee’s life expectancy. In determining whether and to what extent any offset is applicable, the Social Security Administration utilizes the prorated figures set forth in the language of the Stipulation for Settlement.

For example, assume we have a 55 year old male, born on January 1, 1956, that has settled his Minnesota workers’ compensation case for a lump sum of $35,000.00 for a close out of indemnity (monetary) benefits. According to the social security life expectancy tables, this gentleman has a life expectancy of 24.87 years, or 298.44 months.

In this case, the "Social Security" language would look something like this:
Of the $35,000.00 settlement amount, the sum of $7,200.00 is to be paid to the claimant’s attorney as fees. The claimant is currently 55 years old, having been born on January 1, 2956, and has a life expectancy of 24.87 years, or 298.44 months. The balance of $27,800.00 shall be paid to the claimant and shall represent a compromise payment of weekly indemnity benefits over the projected term of the claimant’s life expectancy of 298.44 months at the rate of $93.15 per month, or $23.29 per week. 
The advantage to incorporating this language is that the lump sum payment is stretched out over a longer period of time than most employees would be actually entitled to payment of benefits. By prorating the lump sum payment, or stretching it out over an employee’s lifetime, it minimizes any applicable Social Security offsets for the simultaneous receipt of Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits.

Individuals who are eligible for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits as the result of a work-related injury are also typically eligible for Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits. If you’re receiving SSDI benefits as a result of a disabling injury you received on the job, or if you’re currently receiving both SSDI benefits and workers’ compensation benefits, contact Meuser & Associate for a free, no-obligation case consultation. Call us at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email.

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