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How workers' compensation cases affect SSDI benefits

If a worker in Tennessee is injured on the job, that worker is entitled to file a workers' compensation claim to recover the costs of medical treatment and lost income. However, filing a workers' comp claim can affect a worker's Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, although qualifying for workers' compensation benefits does not mean an injured worker will automatically qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

When an injury leaves a worker permanently unable to continue working, the worker can file for SSDI benefits in addition to a workers' compensation claim. The SSDI benefits, however, may be reduced because of the workers' compensation payments. In fact, SSDI payments combined with workers' compensation and other public disability payments can total no more than 80 percent of a worker's income before disability.

The disability payments can come from any level of government for disabilities not related to the job, such as from state benefits and disability-based state or local government retirement benefits. Any amount above the 80 percent base is deducted. The reduction continues until the recipient turns 65 or the month other benefits end. Payments that will not affect the SSDI payments include Veterans Administration benefits, local and state government benefits - if Social Security taxes were deducted from those earnings - and Supplemental Security Income.

These effects are true whether an injured worker is already receiving benefits or has only applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Fortunately, an injured worker can limit the effect that a workers' compensation settlement has on SSDI benefits. This is generally achieved by having certain language added to the workers' compensation case settlement or by ensuring that a settlement addendum stipulates the precise allowances being made.

Source: SSA.gov, "How Workers' Compensation And Other Disability Payments May Affect Your Benefits," Accessed on Jan.27, 2015

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