If You Get Workers Comp, Will You Get Disability From Social Security?

If you are receiving workers compensation, there is nothing preventing you from getting Social Security Disability. However, it could affect your ability to get SSI disability benefits, which is a separate program, although the approval process and rules for qualifying are the same as for SSD, which is also known as SSDI.

The Social Security Disability process is the same whether you receive Workers Compensation or not, and, by the same token, if you get workers comp you will get disability as long as you qualify under SSD program. This means that your disability claim is sent by the social security office where you filed your claim to the state disability agency for a medical disability determination (in most states, this state-level agency is called DDS, which stands for disability determination services). At this agency, your medical records and work history are evaluated to see if you meet the social security definition of disability.

If you are medically approved for disability--meaning that your condition is A) severe, B) considered to last at least 12 months or more, and C) is thought to prevent you from engaging in work activity that pays a substantial and gainful income--then you may be able to receive monthly disability benefits.

So how does Workers Compensation affect Social Security Disability and SSI disability? When you apply for disability, a claims representative will get your Workers Comp information as part of their disability interview. They will ask you if you are receiving weekly benefits and/or if you have received any kind of settlement payment. If you are receiving Workers Compensation, you will be asked the amount of your weekly benefit. This is true for both Social Security Disability and SSI disability. However, Workers Compensation affects denied on the basis of excess resources if you have received a lump sum Workers Comp settlement.

While Workers Compensation benefits do not cause your Social Security Disability claim to be denied, it does affect the amount of your monthly Social Security Disability payment. There is an offset applied to your Social Security Disability benefit if you are receiving Workers Compensation. The offset is not a dollar for dollar offset, but it does lessen the monthly amount of Social Security you receive.

If you receive a Workers Compensation settlement, your social security lawyer usually will include a clincher statement that prorates the settlement over your lifetime. The statement allows Social Security to pay you a higher monthly disability benefit even though you have received a lump sum Workers Compensation settlement payment. If your attorney does not include the clincher statement, or you settle without the benefit of an attorney, the settlement could potentially cause an offset that would prevent you from receiving monthly disability payments for months or even years.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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