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How Do Workers Compensation Offsets Affect Social Security Disability Payments?

dear jonathan: i have been recieving ssd since around 2002 and also recieving workers comp (lifetime settlement)i am 53 years old.there is also a small payment from my ltd carrier, in the past they requested 13,000 back in which i paid because of approvel of ssd.i would like to know if ssd will want repayment of any of this money back also, I am over the 80% amount of former salery. i feel traped in this situation .i did use a law firm from the start and they handeled it all but never advised me on the details i described.  to date ssd has never requested information on any other payments recieved .your advice would be appreciated ..thank you jonathan i would think a ssd review could come up in the next year.

Jonathan Ginsberg responds:  Manny, thanks for your question.  Generally, workers compensation does offset Social Security.  The question in my mind – does your SSDI payment already reflect an offset for workers compensation?

In Georgia, where I practice, Georgia workers compensation lawyers include special language in workers comp settlements that treats any lump sum settlement as if it was being paid over your lifetime.  In my law firm, my wife Jodi Ginsberg handles workers compensation cases.  If, for example, she settles a case for $50,000 for an individual who has a life expectancy of 30 years (per an actuarial table used in Georgia), this special settlement language treats the $50,000 not as a $50,000 lump sum but as $138.00 per month for 30 years.  In this example, our claimant would see his SSDI reduced by $138 per month.

You need to speak to your workers’ compensation lawyer to see if your State has similar rules and to see if your settlement contains this pro rata payout language.

If Social Security did not take your workers compensation settlement into account, there could be issues – you will need to seek counsel to evaluate how to deal with this problem.  I have seen some instances where a  workers’ compensation settlement has been reopened and the special language put in, and I have seen situations where a claimant successfully asked Social Security for a waiver of the overpayment obligation.  There is also a possibility that you could file bankruptcy to discharge any repayment obligation to Socal Security.