The unfortunate fact is that a lot of people get hurt at work, and sometimes they end up permanently disabled. As we’ve discussed before, people who suffer permanently disabling workplace injuries often qualify for both workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits. It’s perfectly legal — and expected — for people to apply for and receive both types of benefits; systems have been set up to account for it.
Here in New Jersey, your workers’ comp wage-loss benefits for a permanent disability (about 70 percent of your previous average pay) can be partially reduced to prevent you from receiving duplicate benefits. Likewise, back at the Social Security Administration, your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can be offset if you receive too much in workers’ comp or certain other benefits. If the total of those benefits exceeds 80 percent of your average pre-disability wages, your SSDI payments will be reduced.
That sounds complicated. How do they know who’s getting what?
Luckily, there’s no need for you to worry about who’s offsetting what benefits — the two agencies can generally work that out amongst themselves. All you’re required to do is report, honestly and accurately, if anything changes.
If you’re getting workers’ comp benefits in New Jersey, you’re required by law to report any additional benefits you receive, as well as any wages you receive from work. Likewise, you’re legally required to report any work you perform and any workers’ comp benefits you receive to the SSA.
As things stand now, your own report is the only report — the agencies rely on your honesty. That, however, may be changing. In its proposed budget for 2016, the Social Security Administration asked Congress to pass a law requiring workers’ comp and permanent disability insurance companies, along with state and local governments who administer such programs, to report benefits information directly to the SSA.
In a comment, the agency said that the current reliance on beneficiaries’ self-reports, the system is rife with the potential for accidental or intentional failure to make those reports. The SSA did not address how insurers and government agencies would collect and report such information, or how much such systems might cost.
Whether the self-report system will actually change is anybody’s guess. All you need to do, however, is make sure every benefit provider is on the same page about your other benefits.