One of the most common concerns for injured workers is that opting for a worker’s compensation might affect their social security retirement benefits.
If you think about it, their concerns are not unfounded. After all, worker’s compensation can affect your Social Security Disability Benefits.
So, does workers’ compensation affect your Social Security Retirement Benefits? The answer might be more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” To start, let’s look at how retirement benefits are computed.
How Are Retirement Benefits Computed?
Social security retirement benefits in the US are computed using the “credit” system. When you work, social security taxes are deducted from your pay. These taxes earn you corresponding social security credits.
If you are born in 1929 or later, you need to earn 40 credits (10 years of work) to claim retirement benefits. Being permanently disabled before reaching the required credits might affect your eligibility.
Aside from credits, your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) during your entire career also determine how much you’ll get. If there are times when you stopped working or are earning much less, you’ll get reduced benefits.
This is another part where your workers’ compensation might affect your retirement benefits. That’s because workers comp is granted on the assumption that your injury prevents you from going back to work or earn the same amount of income from before the accident.
Even if you get back to work after a time, there will still be months (or years) where you didn’t earn any income. This can affect your AIME and consequently reduce your benefits.
Can You Claim Retirement Benefits While Receiving Workers Compensation?
Yes, you can as long as you qualify for both, except when you’re a federal worker.
The Federal Employees Compensation Act of 1916 provides that workers comp recipients who have reached the retirement age may opt between workers comp or retirement benefits.
Many federal workers opt for the former as workers comp pay up to 75% of an employee’s salary tax-free. Retirement benefits, on the other hand, pay only 60%.
Other Benefit Options
If making ends meet is hard with your workers’ comp, you can still file for other disability benefits.
Most workers’ compensation recipients also qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits. These benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits once you reach retirement age.
You can also check if you’re qualified for state welfare programs. In Florida, there are three kinds of state-sponsored assistance programs for the disabled:
- Temporary Cash Assistance Program. Families with children below 18 years of age may apply as long as they meet the program requirements.
- Optional State Supplementation (OSS) Program. This is for disabled individuals and the elderlies living in care homes and assisted living facilities.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. This program requires ongoing work participation from beneficiaries.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Navigating our workers’ compensation and social security system can be confusing and exhausting. Many social security benefits applications routinely get denied. Employers and insurance companies will also do their best to avoid paying workers comp.
This is why you need an experienced workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca. He has been helping injured workers in Florida for over two decades. His extensive experience will help you get the benefits you rightfully deserve. Call us now for a free consultation.