Individuals injured at work who cannot return to work may seek out Social Security Disability benefits. If you receive a workers’ comp settlement and want to apply for Social Security disability, keep the following in mind.
Social Security Disability and Workers’ Comp Settlements
There are two programs that pay Social Security Disability benefits. SSDI, which is a work-based disability benefit program, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a needs-based disability program. To qualify as “disabled” in either program, an individual must meet Social Security’s definition of disability.
Social Security defines disability as “the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment 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 contrast, Workers’ Compensation benefits provide injured workers medical treatment as well as wage replacement. There are temporary, partial workers’ compensation benefits for those who can eventually return to work and permanent workers’ comp settlements for those who cannot. In North Carolina, workers’ compensation benefits also pay for medical care, vocational rehabilitation, and death and funeral benefits.
Once an individual reaches their “maximum medical improvement’ as determined by their treating physician, the State uses a formula to calculate their workers’ comp settlement. Then, individuals receive those benefits in a lump sum, or over time. Generally, there’s a 500-week limit on how long you can receive total and/or partial temporary disability benefits. Also, your benefits cannot exceed a weekly limit set by the state. You can find weekly limits here.
Can I Get Disability After a Workers’ Comp Settlement?
Individuals can receive Social Security Disability after a workers’ comp settlement. But they must disclose the amount of any workers’ comp benefits they receive. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a rule in place, called the workers’ compensation offset, that governs how much you receive in total benefits
The rule is as follows: if you are receiving both workers’ compensation benefits and SSDI benefits, the TOTAL amount cannot exceed 80% of your prior average earnings. To keep the math simple, we’ll use an example with average prior earnings of $1,000/month. In this example, your SSDI benefits and workers’ compensation benefits could not exceed $800/month. If the amount is greater that what’s allowed, your SSDI benefits will be reduced.
Because SSDI or SSI benefits may be life-long and workers’ comp benefits max out at 500 weeks, we encourage clients with current workers’ comp settlements to apply for disability as well.
Charlotte, NC Social Security Disability Lawyers
Disability claimants represented by a disability lawyer win more claims than those who go it alone. If you or someone you know is applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, contact our Charlotte, NC Social Security Disability lawyers today. We help claimants at every stage of the process and offer free consultations. Even better, there is no fee unless we win your claim.