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Can I Receive Both Social Security and Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits?

Daniel Klosowski

Occasionally an injured worker will find themselves in the following situation: The person suffers an injury that renders them unable to work. A doctor states that the person should be off of work completely. Given this work status, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier begins sending out temporary total disability (TTD) payments to the injured worker. Then, however, the injured worker becomes eligible to begin receiving Social Security benefits and retires from their position with the company where they were injured. The injured worker’s doctor, however, continues to say that they cannot work because of the injury. With this scenario, the question becomes, can the injured worker continue to receive TTD benefits in addition to Social Security benefits? If so, how much of each benefit can the injured worker collect?

The Illinois Appellate Court has ruled that an injured worker can receive both Social Security and TTD benefits. The Court noted that in circumstances not involving an injured worker, a person who is collecting Social Security can still work and earn a certain amount of money. The same rules should apply for an injured worker, according to the court. Therefore, to answer the first question above, an injured worker can collect both Social Security and TTD benefits.

The next question to address then is how much of each benefit a person can collect. The Illinois Appellate Court ruled that Social Security benefits should be reduced when a person is collecting TTD benefits and not vice versa. According to federal law, the total amount of workers’ compensation and Social Security benefits that can be collected by an individual is to be no more than 80% of the individual’s average current earnings.

So, to answer the question above regarding how much of each benefit the injured worker can collect, let’s consider a worker who has average current earnings of $4,000.00 per month. This person would be limited to collecting $3,200.00 per month in total from the combined TTD and Social Security disability benefits. This is 80% of their average current earnings. If the worker’s yearly earnings at the time of the injury were $48,000.00, the worker would be entitled to $2,666.67 per month in TTD under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. This is equivalent to 2/3 of the worker’s average weekly wage. (Calculated monthly: $4,000.00 x 2/3 = $2,666.67) If the worker were receiving Social Security disability benefits, he would be entitled to $2,000.00 per month without an offset. However, with the offset provision, the worker’s Social Security disability benefits will be reduced to $533.33 per month. The worker would then receive 80% of his average current earnings; $2,666.67 in TTD benefits, $533.33 in Social Security disability benefits, for a total of $3,200.00.

When an injured worker is off of work for a period of time and has multiple sources of income, the case can become complex. It is a good idea to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can assure that the injured worker is receiving the correct amounts from each source of income according to the law.

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