How Does Workers' Compensation Affect Disability Benefits?

Feb 4 2017 - 8:00am

The brochure I was given regarding Worker's Compensation says it "may" have an effect on your disability payment. When does it, and when does it not.
I am receiving disability but I don't receive any of it because of a Worker's Comp lump sum, and over payment from 1999. Is there a limit to how much they can take? Does my pension (Chicago Teachers Pension Fund) decrease my funds also. I am not sure if that is considered a government pension or not.

Hi,

The basic rule is that your combined monthly Workers' Compensation and Social Security disability benefit amounts can't exceed 80% of your average current earnings (ACE). The ACE is usually calculated using your highest year of earnings in the 5 year period leading up to your entitlement to disability benefits. For example, if your high year of earnings was $12000, your ACE would be $1000, and your combined Workers' Compensation and Social Security disability amount would be limited to $800 per month. Refer to this Social Security pamphlet for additional information: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10018.pdf.

So, if your Workers' Compensation amount by itself is more than 80% of your ACE, it could result in a full offset of your Social Security disability benefits. And, if you receive a lump-sum settlement in lieu of periodic Workers' Compensation payments, the lump-sum is prorated in order to convert it to a monthly rate.

Public Disability Benefits (PDB) can also result in an offset of Social Security disability benefits in the same manner as Workers' Compensation benefits. However, I don't if your teacher's pension would be considered as a PDB or not. It could cause a reduction in your basic disability benefit rate, though, if your earnings there were exempt from Social Security taxes. This is due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf).

Best, Jerry