Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Social Security and Minnesota Workers' Comp

Individuals who sustain on-the-job injuries in Minnesota are generally eligible for various workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and/or rehabilitation benefits. If an individual’s injury is severe and prevents that individual from working for an extended period of time, he or she may also be eligible for Social Security Disability or Social Security Supplemental Insurance. 

At Meuser & Associate, we evaluate every workers’ compensation case to determine if there are additional benefits available to that injured worker, including social security benefits. My colleague, Jason Emery of Greeman Toomey PLLC has been kind enough to write a guest article for this blog providing some information about the types of Social Security benefits available and what it takes to qualify for those benefits.

"The Social Security disability process exists in order to provide assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment or a combination of both. 

The Social Security Administration defines disability (for adults) as “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 

In other words, if you have been unable to work for at least 12 months due to a severe impairment, or expect to be unable to work for 12 months, you may be eligible to receive benefits. 

There are several different programs available to individuals who qualify. The two primary types of programs people qualify for are Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). 

Individuals who have paid into Social Security through taxes in the past may qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits if they have paid FICA taxes for at least five out of the last ten years. The amount an individual will be entitled to under this program will be determined by how much an individual has paid into the system. The Social Security Administration typically mails taxpayers a statement every year around their birthdays indicating how much they would receive if they were to be found disabled. 

Supplemental Security Income benefits are available to individuals who lack significant resources. Typically, an individual who is applying for SSI benefits cannot have more than $2,000 in resources and a couple cannot have resources in excess of $3,000 if one of the partners is applying for SSI benefits. The Social Security Administration will consider things such as cash, bank accounts, stocks, U.S. savings bonds, land, life insurance, personal property, vehicles and anything else which could be changed to cash in determining a person’s or a couple’s resources. The maximum monthly payment for SSI benefits in 2012 is $698 for an individual or $1,048 for a married couple (who are both found to be disabled). 

An individual can file applications for both Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income at the same time. This is called filing “concurrent” applications. The standard, or definition, for disability under both programs is identical. If an individual is found to be medically disabled under one program, he or she will be found disabled under the other program as well. However, a person generally cannot receive Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income for the same time period. Rather, the Social Security Administration will determine which amount is greater and issue that payment. 

The date an individual applies for Social Security disability has a significant impact on the amount he or she may be entitled to. Disability Insurance Benefits may be paid retroactively up to a year before an individual files an application. Supplemental Security Income benefits can only be paid as of the date of the application, regardless of when it is determined a person became disabled. Therefore, it is very important to file an application as soon as possible if an individual feels he or she may not be able to work for at least 12 months. 
To schedule a free initial consultation or ask about the Social Security disability process, feel free to contact attorney Jason R. Emery at Greeman Toomey PLLC at 1-877-332-3252 or by emailing jason@greemantoomey.com."

For a free, no-obligation legal consultation regarding your Minnesota workers' compensation rights, call Meuser & Associate at  877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email. 



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