How Social Security and workers’ compensation benefits coordinate

Jeffrey S. Gross

The existence of the dual system of federal and state governments can lead to overlapping coverage of some kinds of events that trigger the possible eligibility for benefits under their agencies and programs. One such possible interaction between the federal and state systems can be found in how Federal Social Security disability benefits work in parallel with Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits.

Consider a situation in which you are injured at work, and the nature of your injuries is severe enough that you qualify not only for workers’ compensation benefits but Social Security benefits as well. At first, this may seem to be something that works to your advantage, especially given that it is possible that neither of these two benefit sources by itself would replace your work income.

It might even be tempting to believe that the combination of the two benefits might make you better off than you were when you were earning a wage or a salary. If, for example, you were earning $4,000 monthly before you were injured, and your Social Security and workers’ compensation benefits combined would total more than that, at first blush the injury seems to work to your advantage.

Unfortunately, however, that scenario does not work in actual practice. The maximum benefit amount that you can receive from both Social Security disability and workers’ compensation can be no more than 80 percent of what you were earning before you were injured.

If the blended benefit would be more than 80 percent, then the Social Security Administration will reduce your Social Security benefits accordingly until your total benefit does not exceed the cap.

You should note that in addition to Social Security and workers’ compensation benefits, you may be entitled to other government benefits if you are injured, and some of these, such as veterans’ benefits, may not be subject to the same 80 percent combined limit described above.

A law firm that is experienced and knowledgeable in workers’ compensation and other benefits law may be able to help you to realize the maximum benefits allowable if you are injured on the job.

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