We have many clients who receive benefits under both their workers compensation claim and a Social Security Disability claim. This is absolutely allowed, and may well increase your overall monthly income. You can collect both benefits, up to a cap of 80% of your highest average annual earnings. Because everyone’s earning are different, everyone’s 80% cap will be different. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has various formulas for figuring each person’s highest average annual earnings, and they will use the formula which is the most advantageous to you.
Individuals with a high earning history will have a high 80% cap, and may get nearly the full benefit of both the Social Security Disability and Labor & Industries (L&I) benefits. Workers with a lower earnings history will have a lower 80% cap, and payment of either Social Security or L&I benefits alone may put the worker at or near the cap. If combined benefits exceed the 80% cap, either the SSA or L&I will take an offset, reducing your payments to the 80% cap.
If you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits and your application has been denied, it is important to Request Reconsideration. The denial will come with instructions for how to make such a request, and the timeline for doing so. It is important to request reconsideration within the time allowed. You do not need an attorney at this stage.
After you have requested reconsideration, you should work with the SSA to provide all the up to date information about your condition. Keep in mind that for purposes of Social Security Disability it does not matter what caused the particular condition, or whether the condition is related to a work injury. Social Security looks at your complete medical and/or psychiatric picture.
If you application is denied a second time, this is when you should contact an attorney. At this stage your claim is moving toward a Hearing. Hiring an attorney will assure you the best possible chance of obtaining a favorable result.
While you can collect benefits under both a Social Security Disability and a workers compensation claim, they are two completely different systems. Obviously, one is a Federal benefit and one is a State benefit. Beyond that, each system uses its own criteria for determining total disability. Being found totally disabled under one set of guidelines does not necessarily mean you will considered disabled under the other. A decision by one agency is not binding on the other agency. It can be a bit of a maze. But, applying for Social Security Disability benefits when you have a long-term work related disability can be to your advantage. Get the ball rolling, and call for help if your application is denied a second time.