How Does Workers' Compensation Affect Social Security Disability Benefits?

April 4, 2011

Often times our clients have a workers' compensation case as well as a Social Security disability case. A question that comes up is whether the client can receive a monthly check for Social Security disability as well as a weekly check from workers' compensation. The short answer is: it depends. If you are receiving a weekly workers' compensation check under Georgia law, the amount of that weekly check will not be reduced by any Social Security income benefits you might be getting.

However, the amount of the monthly Social Security disability check may be partially reduced or even completely cut out while you are receiving Georgia workers' compensation weekly checks.

Any reduction in Social Security income benefits is determined by calculating the amount of your average earnings (ACE) before you got disabled. Generally speaking, the total combined amount of your monthly workers' compensation and Social Security disability income benefits cannot exceed 80% of what you were earning on the job when you got hurt. Otherwise, you may very well end up having the amount of your monthly Social Security disability income check reduced or cut out altogether.

One way to keep your Social Security check from being reduced or eliminated by the Georgia workers' compensation checks you are getting is to reach a settlement in your workers' compensation case with your employer and its insurance company. There needs to be special language in your workers' compensation settlement document which takes the total amount of your workers' compensation settlement and breaks it down into a weekly amount based on how long the actuarial tables say you will live given your current age. With this, the Social Security Administration treats you as though you are still getting a weekly workers' comp check even though workers' comp ends after your settlement.

However, the "make believe" workers' comp check that the Social Security Administration says you are getting will be significantly less than the actual workers' comp check you were receiving before the settlement. This will typically cause your monthly Social Security disability income check to go back up after the workers' comp settlement goes through.

If you were hurt on the job and have any questions about how workers' comp may affect your Social Security case, please feel free to call me and I will be happy to discuss this with you in further detail.