Another disability benefit available for Massachusetts’ employees injured and out of work for more than one year is social security disability. For more information on who qualifies for SSDI benefits and how you can apply for SSDI, please refer to our SSDI practice area page. It is important to note that any worker who is out of work for one year or who has a condition which will clearly lead to disability lasting more than twelve months should consider filing for social security disability.
There are certain coverage requirements which generally state that a worker must have had a fairly steady work history to qualify; but assuming you do qualify, social security disability could provide significant additional benefits to you and your family in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits. There is no effect on your workers’ compensation claim by filing for social security. Indeed, an award of social security disability benefits may even help your workers’ compensation claim. Social security disability could pay an injured worker and his family up to an additional two thousand four hundred ($2,400.00) per month, depending on the amount of the worker’s pre-injury wages. In addition to monthly money, social security can also provide the worker with Medicare coverage after the second year of social security entitlement. This may be important since many workers who are on workers’ compensation have their health care insurance canceled after being out of work for a period of time.
If you are approved for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, and you are receiving weekly workers’ compensation benefits, the Social Security Administration may be entitled to a reduction, or offset, of your monthly SSDI benefit. Generally, an injured worker can collect a combination of workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits up to a maximum of eighty percent (80%) of your Average Current Earnings (ACE). Your Average Current Earnings is the maximum gross wages you earned in any one tax year in the five (5) years before you were injured at work. For example, if your Average Current Earnings is $50,000.00, you cannot receive more than $40,000.00 per year, or $3,333.33 per month, in combined workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. Thus, if you are receiving $30,000.00 per year ($2,500.00 per month) in temporary total disability workers’ compensation benefits, you are entitled to only $833.33 per month (or $10,000.00 per year) in Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.
In certain circumstances where you have been approved for SSDI benefits and remain on weekly Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation benefits, it may be in your best financial interest to have a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney negotiate a lump sum settlement of your workers’ compensation benefits. The Social Security Administration allows an injured worker to pro rate the proceeds from your workers’ compensation lump sum settlement over your life expectancy, which in most situations allows you to collect the maximum amount of money your would have been entitled to in Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits if not for the reduction, or offset, due to the receipt of workers’ compensation benefits.
Determining whether a lump sum settlement is in your best interest can be a very complicated and complex analysis. You should contact our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys immediately to find out whether accepting a lump sum settlement is in your best interest.