Workers' compensation and social security disability can have different effects depending on your situation. If you have a workers' compensation wage award in Virginia and are approved for social security disability payments, there can be an "off-set" (reduction) of your disability benefits based upon the amount of your workers' comp wage benefits payments.
Under Social Security Administration rules, you may collect a combination of workers' comp wage benefits of up to 80% of your "average current earnings," (also called ACE.) This figure is determined by looking at your maximum gross wages earned in any one tax year in the five years before your work-related injury. For instance, if your ACE is $40,000.00, you would not be eligible to receive more than $32,000.00 per year or $2,666.67 per month in combined workers' compensation and social security disability benefits. If your weekly workers' compensation benefit is $400.00, this equals to $20,800.00 per year and $1733.33 per month. Your SSDIB benefit would then be $933.34 per month.
If you settle your workers' compensation claim, there may also be an offset or reduction of your SSDIB benefit. Depending on your situation, the way your settlement documents are written can help ensure that your SSDIB reduction is minimized or eliminated. It's possible to have all or some of the proceeds from your settlement "pro-rated" over your life expectancy, which allows you to collect the maximum amount of money you may be entitled to in SSDIB. Having a qualified, experienced Virginia workers' compensation attorney assist you with this can be of great help and is highly recommended.
Another issue to be aware of is how your medical benefits may be affected if approved for Social Security Disability. Depending on your situation, you may be immediately eligible for Medicare or within 30 months after you are found to be disabled. This can create a situation where you have to use your workers' comp insurance for the work injury and Medicare for other non-work related care. It can get complicated. However, there are situations where you might be able to settle your workers' compensation claim and resolve the conflict with Medicare. Getting the help of a qualified workers' compensation attorney is strongly recommended.
These are some of the situations that could arise when you have both a workers' compensation claim and a social security disability claim. This is not a complete summary of all of the possible situations that may arise.