Lieberman, Ryan & Forrest, L.L.C.
Somerset County
Hunterdon County

After a disabling work injury, can I get workers' comp and SSDI?

It can be tough to get by after a disabling injury, because by definition you can't work. The bills keep stacking up, but there's nothing you can do about it without income. If you were hurt at work, you're probably eligible for workers' compensation benefits, as we've discussed on this blog before. We've also discussed how, if your injury will keep you from performing any substantial work for at least a year, you might be eligible for Social Security disability. Can you get both?

The good news is yes, you can. The catch, however, is that if your workers' compensation or public-sector disability payments are too high, the Social Security Administration might reduce your Social Security disability benefits.

Do all disability benefits potentially reduce Social Security disability?

No. Lots of people purchase long-term disability insurance or receive it as a benefit through work or a pension plan. That insurance wouldn't be worth nearly as much if they canceled out your eligibility for other benefits, right? The same goes for many non-disability benefits for state or local government employees, as long as Social Security taxes were withheld from their checks. Any Supplemental Security Income benefits your family receives won't be counted against you. VA disability compensation for military vets also has no effect on your Social Security disability.

Programs that could reduce your Social Security disability benefits are largely those that have been specifically designated as disability benefit programs like workers' comp. As you may know, workers' comp covers private-sector workers, in most cases. Other employers, such as municipalities, states and the federal government, provide similar compensation programs for civil servants who are injured at work. Temporary disability benefits provided by state employers can also be taken into account by the Social Security Administration.

How much could my SSD benefits be reduced?

The Social Security Administration looks at the total, combined amount of applicable benefits your family is receiving. Taking into account your workers' comp or public disability payments as discussed above, if your total benefits exceed 80 percent of your average pay before your disabling injury, your SSD will be reduced.

If you have specific questions about how workers' compensation programs might affect your SSD benefits, we welcome you to contact one of our attorneys.

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