Can You Collect Both Social Security Disability and Temporary Total Disability Benefits?
Yes, in Illinois you can absolutely collect Social Security Disability and Temporary Total Disability benefits at the same time with no reduction of your workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, we encourage many of our clients to pursue both Social Security Disability and workers’ compensation cases concurrently.
If you were injured as a result of a work accident, it is quite common to file for both workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits. This is because your work-related injury may prevent you from returning to your previous job, and because of your age and lack of training to perform other work; you may be considered disabled under the Social Security Disability regulations (Grids).
However, if you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits and workers’ compensation Temporary Total Disability benefits at the same time, the Social Security Administration has the right to reduce the monthly amount that you receive in disability payments. Between workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will allow you to collect 80% of your “Average Current Earnings.” Any combination of workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits that exceeds 80% of your Average Current Earnings will be deducted from your Social Security Disability benefits.
Your Average Current Earnings is most easily calculated by taking the average of your five best earning years since 1950 or your single best earning year in the last five years. Your Average Current Earnings can also be found on the Annual Earnings Record you receive each year from the Social Security Administration. It should be noted that your Average Current Earnings is different from your Average Weekly Wage used in your workers’ compensation case.
To better understand the 80% threshold, look at the following example:
• You are a construction worker who has suffered a serious injury to your lower back
• Your lower back injury prevents you from lifting more than 10 pounds
• You are 58 years old and your employer cannot accommodate your restrictions
• Your Social Security Disability Average Current Earnings are $4,000.00 each month
• Your Temporary Total Disability benefits each month are $2,668.00
• You are eligible to receive $2,000.00 a month in Social Security Disability benefits
The total amount of benefits you would receive would be $4,668.00 ($2,000 SSDI + $2,668.00 TTD) is greater than 80% of the Average Current Earnings of $4,000.00 ($4,000.00 x.80 = $3,200.00). As a result, your monthly Social Security Disability benefits must be reduced to $532.00 ($3,200.00 – $2,668.00 = $532.00).
In Illinois your employer or their insurance carrier cannot reduce your workers’ compensation benefits simply because you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits. However, in some states the employer can reduce workers’ compensation benefits by what is called a “Reverse Off-Set Provision.” Some employers may also attempt to argue that you left the job market when you applied for Social Security Disability benefits. We always recommend using an experienced lawyer to guide you through this sometimes complicated process.