A Virginia worker injured on the job may qualify for both workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Each program determines eligibility independently. Receiving SSDI does not affect your workers’ comp benefits, but workers’ compensations benefits can reduce SSDI payments in some situations. Getting assistance from an experienced Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer ensures that you get the maximum benefits you deserve under both programs.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act is a state law that provides specific benefits for eligible on-the-job injuries. The benefits include lifetime medical benefits, wage loss replacement, and permanent partial or total disability payments for specific losses.
When you suffer a work injury, navigating your workers’ comp claim without help from a knowledgeable lawyer can result in you receiving less benefits or a lower settlement than you deserve. In some circumstances, your workers’ comp benefits can also affect the amount of compensation you receive under another program, Social Security Disability Insurance. Your lawyer can minimize or eliminate potential reductions that may result from the interplay between workers’ compensation and SSDI.
Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal government program that is completely independent from the Virginia workers’ compensation program. SSDI eligibility requirements, purposes, and payments are completely different. SSDI benefits are available only to workers who are not able to work at any job due to illness or injury that causes disability.
SSDI provides disability income to individuals who have a qualifying work history, either through their own work history or a spouse’s or parent’s employment history. Generally, the worker or family member must have contributed to the federal payroll tax system for at least five of the past ten years. In addition, benefits under SSDI are provided only if a worker suffers a long-term disability that prevents them from doing any substantial work permanently. The worker must be unable to perform any work (not just their past job) based on the worker’s age, education, and job skills.
The amount of SSDI benefits is based on the worker’s (or family member’s) lifetime earnings, rather than on the wages the worker earned immediately prior to disability. SSDI also provides Medicare health care benefits for workers under age 65 with a qualifying disability.
While eligibility for SSDI is determined separately from workers’ comp eligibility, a worker who receives both types of benefits may find that SSDI payments are reduced because of workers’ compensation payments. The Social Security Administration may adjust or offset your SSDI payment if your total earnings from workers’ comp and SSDI combined exceed more than 80% of your average earnings prior to disability. However, with assistance from a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney, you can reduce or eliminate the SSDI offset for workers’ compensation.
Most often, the best way to avoid a SSDI offset from workers’ compensation payments is to negotiate a settlement of your workers’ comp claim that structures your workers’ compensation benefits over your lifetime to avoid or minimize the offset. Assistance from a workers’ compensation lawyer is essential to ensure that a settlement agreement contains all the necessary provisions and that payments are structured to avoid an SSDI offset.
If a significant work injury causes permanent physical or mental disability, you may be eligible for both workers’ compensation benefits and SSDI benefits. In that situation, you should contact a workers’ compensation lawyer who understands both types of benefits, like our Virginia injury lawyers at Renfro & Renfro, at the earliest possible time. Your lawyer will assist you with maximizing your benefits under both programs.
Timing for receiving the two types of benefits differs significantly. The process of qualifying for SSDI takes much longer than initiating a workers’ compensation claim. Availability of benefits also differs substantially. Medical coverage under workers’ compensation begins immediately; other benefits are payable after you miss seven days of work. In contrast, SSDI does not pay benefits for the first five months of a disability. Medicare coverage under SSDI does not begin until 29 months after the date of disability. As such, it is usually beneficial to get the workers’ compensation claim process underway even before initiating the SSDI process.
Preserving potential SSDI benefits when resolving your workers’ compensation claim is extremely important. You should not agree to any resolution of your workers’ compensation claim without talking to a lawyer. Doing so could result in you losing out on benefits that you otherwise would be able to receive at a time when maximizing all potential benefits is essential.
If you receive a catastrophic work injury that may entitle you to receive both workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits, our trusted Virginia workers’ compensation lawyers at the Richmond law firm of Renfro & Renfro, are here to help you with both claims. We will make certain that you receive all the benefits you deserve, including minimizing or eliminating offsets whenever possible. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation.