Workers' Benefits May Affect Pay

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Byline: Esther Hatfield District Manager, Elgin Social Security Office

A young man who's getting both workers' compensation and Social Security disability benefits called our office to ask why his Social Security benefits are being reduced.

We told him that ordinarily, disability payments from other sources don't affect Social Security disability benefits.

But if the disability payment is workers' compensation or another public disability payment, his and his family's Social Security benefits may be reduced.

A workers' compensation payment is one that is made to a worker because of a job-related injury or illness.

It may be paid by federal or state workers' compensation agencies, employers or insurance companies on behalf of employers.

Public disability payments that may affect your Social Security benefit are those paid under a federal, state or local government law or plan that pays for conditions that are not job-related.

Examples are civil service disability benefits, military disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability.

However, Social Security benefits are not reduced when the person is receiving federal, state or local government benefits for work that was covered by Social Security, private pensions or insurance benefits, or Veterans or Supplemental Security Income payments.

We told the caller that his Social Security benefits were reduced so the combined amount of the benefit he and his family receive, plus his workers' compensation payment and any other government disability payment, won't exceed 80 percent of his average current pre-disability earnings.

If this sum exceeds 80 percent of those earnings, the excess amount is deducted from his Social Security benefit.

The combined benefits will never be less than the amount of his and his family's total Social Security benefits before they were reduced. …