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If you have been injured at work and are unable to keep working or start a new job due to your health, you may be eligible to receive income from both Social Security Disability (SSD) and workers’ compensation benefit programs. This article will help you understand each of these two government programs, how they interact, and how you may be able to collect benefits from both.

What’s the Difference Between SSD Benefits and Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

SSD or Social Security Disability, also known as SSDI or Social Security Disability Insurance, is a federal government program that provides financial assistance to people with disabilities. This program can help you only if your disability makes it impossible for you to work and your disability is long-term, meaning it has lasted a year, will last a year, or is likely to end in death.

Payments through SSD are managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and are funded by Social Security payroll taxes. These taxes are typically withdrawn from your paycheck under the heading FICA, which stands for the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. In 2020, if you earn less than $137,700, FICA taxes withdrawn from your paycheck total 7.65% of your pay. The Social Security tax part of this is 6.2%, and a Medicare tax of 1.45% makes up the rest. Your employer also pays the same amount.

The bottom line: You earn credits for Social Security benefits as you work and pay FICA taxes.

Workers’ compensation, required by most states for most employers, provides medical benefits and partial income replacement to employees injured at work or to workers who suffer a work-related illness. Work-related injuries and illnesses can cause temporary or permanent disability.

Most employers hire a workers’ compensation insurance company to manage and pay workers’ comp benefits. Some companies are allowed to self-insure. Either way, no money is withdrawn from your paycheck to cover workers’ comp benefits.

Unlike SSD, to receive workers’ comp disability benefits, you only have to show that your disability prevents you from doing your job. You don’t have to show that you are unable to do any job, and that your disability will last for at least a year or is expected to end in death.

Can I Receive Both Benefits?

In some cases, yes, you can collect workers’ comp and Social Security benefits. Still, there is a very important limitation: The most you can receive from these is 80% of your average current earnings before you became disabled. SSD payments will be “offset,” or reduced, to keep you from receiving more than 80%.

It can be complicated to figure out what constitutes your “average current earnings.” To calculate this amount, the SSA uses different formulas, depending on your specific circumstances.

According to the SSA, your monthly SSD and workers’ compensation benefits, plus other public disability payments you’re receiving, are added together. If the total of all of these benefits exceeds 80 percent of your average current earnings, the amount exceeding 80 percent is deducted from your Social Security benefits.

Civil service disability benefits are just one example of a public disability payment that may reduce your SSD benefit. Veteran’s Administration benefits do not reduce your SSD benefit. However, workers’ compensation benefits will also reduce your SSD payments.

How Workers’ Compensation Benefits Offset SSD Payments

The formulas used by the SSA to determine your “average current earnings” will include any workers’ compensation benefits you receive, whether you chose to receive your workers’ compensation benefits as a lump-sum settlement, a weekly benefit payment, or both.

Therefore, any SSD payments you receive will be “offset” or reduced by the amount of worker’s compensation benefits you receive. It isn’t easy to understand how SSD and workers’ compensation work together. That is why it is important to enlist professional help to determine how best to maximize the benefits you deserve.

How Can I Maximize My Disability Benefits?

The best way to maximize your disability benefits is to work with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who also understands workers’ compensation law. Several different strategies should be considered.

If you are disabled, the attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons have the knowledge, experience, and compassion to help you through every step of the process from completing complicated forms, preparing documentation, and advocating on your behalf.

Call our Oklahoma City office today for a free consultation.

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