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How do workers' compensation benefits affect SSD benefits?

Many injured workers in Missouri wonder about how a claim for workers' compensation benefits might affect their chances of obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. This post will review the ways in which these two programs relate to one another.

The first major difference is the fact that SSD claims are administered by the Social Security Administration, an agency of the federal government, and workers' compensation benefits are administered by the states. In Missouri, the administering agency is the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Division of Workers' Compensation. The second major difference is the threshold for receiving benefits. Under the SSD regulations, a person must be totally disabled for a period of one year or more in order to receive benefits. Under Missouri's workers' compensation statute, a worker can receive benefits immediately upon being injured, and benefits can be awarded for partial and disabling conditions. Under both programs, benefits cease if the disabling injury or illness decreases in severity and allows the benefits recipient to return to work. Under federal regulations, the injury or medical condition need not have been cause by the disabled person's job; under the workers' compensation program, the illness or injury must be related to the claimant's work.

This description poses an obvious question: can an injured or disabled worker recover benefits under both SSDI and workers' compensation. The simple answer is "yes," but it comes with many qualifications. When the SSDI program was created in 1956 and reinstituted in 1965, the enabling legislation imposed a system of offsets intended to prevent an injured or disabled worker from receiving "excessive" benefits. The general rule is that benefits paid to one recipient under both programs cannot exceed 80 percent of the worker's current average earnings.

A person who has suffered a work-related illness or injury and who is completely disabled may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in handling SSDI claims. An experienced attorney can provide an estimate of the likelihood of recovering benefits under each program and the total amount of benefits that may be available.

Source: Social Security, "Workers' Compensation, Social Security Disability Insurance, and the Offset: A Fact Sheet," Virginia Reno, Cecili Thompson Williams, and Ishita Sengupta, accessed on Oct. 30, 2016

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