Workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance are the country’s largest benefit programs for disabled employees. Often, an injured or ailing worker is eligible for payments through both programs at the same time. When this occurs and income exceeds an allotted threshold, Social Security payments can be “offset” or reduced. Experienced Indiana disability lawyers can help disabled workers avoid or minimize this reduction of benefits.
Navigate the Intersection of Disability Benefits with Indiana Disability Lawyers
Indiana workers’ compensation laws differ from those of other states, and workers’ compensation benefits are paid out in different ways across the country. Social Security is a federal program that administers benefits consistently from state to state.
When a worker receives an Indiana workers’ compensation settlement, he or she is often already receiving or will soon begin receiving Social Security disability benefits. This is almost always the situation if a permanent total disability is established in the workers’ compensation matter.
An Indiana workers’ compensation attorney can assist employees in structuring permanent partial and permanent total disability settlement agreements that do not impact Social Security payments, thus avoiding—or minimizing—the workers’ compensation and Social Security disability offset.
Important Details about the Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Offset
Whether or not an injured worker receives a permanent partial or permanent total disability settlement from workers’ compensation, Social Security disability benefits will be reduced to an amount no greater than 80 percent of the workers’ average earnings for that worker when working at full capacity.
More specifically, the Social Security Administration calculates 80 percent of the worker’s average current earnings (ACE). The ACE is the highest of these three numbers:
- The primary insurance amount (PIA), which is the average monthly wage over the worker’s lifetime;
- The average of the highest five earnings years in a row; or
- The highest-earning calendar year of the five years prior to and including the year the disability began.
When a worker’s family receives other Social Security disability benefits, if his or her total family benefit is higher than 80 percent of the worker’s ACE, then the 80 percent figure will be used as the maximum and will determine if the workers’ compensation and Social Security disability must be offset.
How Indiana Disability Lawyers Can Help Injured Workers
While the workers’ compensation and Social Security disability offset provides a uniform system for the Social Security Administration and states when dealing with the varying benefit system, this number is something that is outside the control of the worker.
Without an attorney handling your claims for workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits, you could get less than you might otherwise. Factors that impact the monthly value of a permanent partial or permanent total disability settlement—and, therefore, the workers’ compensation and Social Security disability offset calculation—include the following, among others:
- The representative monthly amount of your Indiana workers’ compensation settlement as established in your original settlement agreement;
- Past or future medical benefits; and
- Legal expenses.
A competent attorney will draft an Indiana workers’ compensation settlement so that any permanent partial or permanent total disability payments are either excluded from Social Security disability calculations or at their minimal countable totals.
The Indiana disability lawyers of Camden & Meridew, PC are happy to discuss your individual case and provide legal guidance to maximize your disability benefits. For a consultation, contact the firm by calling 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form today.