Can I Collect BOTH Workers Compensation
AND Social Security Disability for Hearing Loss?
Yes. Under some circumstances you can collect Social Security Disability for hearing loss – even if you are already collecting Workers Comp for your hearing loss. However, your Social Security Benefits will typically be “Offset” or reduced by your Workers’ Compensation Settlement.
In other words, Social Security laws allow the Social Security Administration – under certain circumstances – to reduce Social Security Disability payments if you are also receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits.
In this article our experienced Social Security Disability and Workers Comp lawyers explain this “offset” or reduction.
Workers Comp vs. Social Security Disability for Hearing Loss
Both Workers Comp & Social Security Disability require that you prove your hearing loss, typically through standardized hearing tests performed by specialized ENT doctors.
However, to collect Workers Comp for hearing loss or deafness, you must prove that the hearing loss was caused by circumstances in your work place (noise, chemicals, injury, etc.) But to collect SSD for hearing loss, the cause of the deafness does not matter. So in this regard, collecting SSD may be slightly easier.
But, to collect Workers Comp for hearing loss or deafness, you only need to prove that the hearing loss prevents you from performing your current job. While Social Security Disability requires that you are unable to perform any job in the current economy. So in this regard, collecting Workers Comp is somewhat easier.
How is a Social Security Offset Reduction Calculated?
Now, if you qualify for BOTH SSDI and Workers Comp, Social Security is going to “offset” or reduce your Social Security benefits using a very complex formula.
It is always best to talk to an experienced Workers Compensation and Social Security lawyer to understand exactly how these “offset” laws will apply to your individual situation. But below our lawyers have set forth some general guidelines to use how Workers Compensation benefits and Social Security benefits interact. To know how this offset affect your hearing loss case, call our lawyers for a free consultation.
When the combined total of your Workers’ Compensation PLUS Social Security exceeds 80% of your pre-disability earnings, the Social Security Administration will take a “dollar-for-dollar offset”. This means they will reduce your SSD benefits by the amount that is in excess of 80% of your pre-disability earnings.
First, you need to calculate your pre-disability income – also called your “average current earnings” or “ACE” – which is complicated. In fact, calculating your pre-disability income is can be done three different ways.
(1) “Average monthly wage”: Divide the total of all wages & self-employment income by the number of months over which it was earned;
(2) “Average Current Earnings”: Take 1/60th of the total of your wages (plus self-employment income) for the 5 consecutive calendar years (after 1950) for which the wages (plus self-employment income) was the highest;
(3) “Highest Calendar Year”: Calculate 1/12th of the total of wages and self-employment income for the calendar year in which you had the highest income from the year you became disabled and the 5 years preceding that year.
Whichever method generates the highest number will be used by the Social Security Administration to calculate your average current earnings (ACE).
Next, reduce your average current earnings (ACE) by 20%.
Then compare total monthly workers’ compensation payment plus your monthly Social Security disability entitlement to the “ACE minus 20%”.
If the “ACE minus 205” is less than the total of the disability payments, the “dollar-for-dollar” reduction (“offset”) will be applied to your benefits.
To summarize: if your Workers Comp plus your Social Security is greater than your ACE (minus 20%), the SSA will reduce your Social Security Disability benefit accordingly!
Note, however, that some Disability Payments are NOT subject to “offset”, including black lung benefits, VA benefits, private pension or insurance benefits, and others.
Lawyers Can Help Prevent Social Security Offset Reductions from Workers Comp
Because this is confusing, it is always best to talk to an experienced Workers Compensation and Social Security lawyer to understand exactly how these laws will apply to your situation.
If you are applying for (or already receive) Social Security Disability and/or Workers Compensation for your hearing loss (or other condition), sometimes an experienced lawyer can often “structure” your Workers Compensation settlement in such a way that you do not exceed your ACE, and therefore do not have your Social Security benefits reduced!
Call our Long Beach Workers Compensation and Social Security lawyers today to understand exactly how these “offset” laws will apply to your unique benefit situation.