Social Security Disability

Can You Receive Both Social Security Disability and Workers' Compensation Benefits?

 The Virginia Workers’ Compensation statute provides wage benefits to workers who are injured by accident at work.  If an employee is unable to return to their job or a light duty assignment due to a workplace accident, wage benefits are paid out at two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage for a maximum of 500 weeks.


  Under Social Security Disability guidelines, multiple factors go into the consideration of one’s disability qualification, including one’s medical condition, age, education and work history. To qualify for disability benefits, you must have “a physical or mental impairment that is expected to keep you from doing any substantial work (less than $1,090 per month) for at least a year.”   Depending on the multiple factors listed above, it is possible that an employee who is unable to return to his or her regular job for workers’ compensation purposes may nonetheless be denied Social Security Disability due to an ability to perform other work in the general economy, regardless of whether you desire or can actually get hired for such a job.

If an employee on workers’ compensation also meets the Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”)disability definition, SSA still will apply workers’ compensation benefits as an offset to Social Security Disability Benefits – meaning not every disabled worker can recover full benefits under both statutes.  As calculated, the combined amount of workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits may not exceed 80% of the employee’s prior average or peak earnings.

For example, a worker who earned $40,000 per year may not receive more than $32,000 (or $2,667 per month) in combined workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits.  If that worker receives $2,215 per month in workers’ compensation benefits, Social Security Disability will pay only $452 in additional benefits due to the 80% offset rule.

The settlement of a workers' compensation claim also presents significant and unique issues where a worker is eligible or may soon become eligible for Medicare benefits, including the possible waiver of Medicare coverage for work-related medical expenses. Under such circumstances, a worker would be advised to consult with an attorney regarding the effects of such a settlement as it relates to future Medicare coverage.