Many times when a person’s health deteriorates, it has devastating financial implication as well. Most Americans do not have sufficient savings to last more than three months without income. In an instant, after a car wreck, a heart attack, or any other dramatic health crisis, a person can become disabled and everything can change. In times like these, when a person becomes disabled, it is important to reach to the entitlement programs that are available.
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Benefits
For people that were injured on the job, it is possible to receive both workers' compensation and Social Security benefits at the same time. However, the government has set certain limits. The combined total of Worker’s Compensation and Social Security income benefits cannot be more than 80% of the wage earners average monthly earnings before he or she became disabled. Essentially, the government does not want a person to make more money on disability than he or she did while working.
The government usually will take the average of the “Best of the Best”. This means the government will look at the wage earners best ten years of employment and then average the monthly rate for the best five years out of that ten-year period.
If the Social Security benefits combined with the Workers’ Comp. benefits are greater than 80% of the “Best of the Best” monthly average wages, then the Social Security benefits will be reduced. I call this the 80% rule.
Unemployment and Applying for Social Security Benefits
When people file for unemployment, they are claiming that they are “ready, willing and able” to work. When people file for a Social Security disability claim, they are claiming that they cannot work. At first glance it would appear that a person is unable to file for both unemployment and Social Security disability benefits. However, this is not always the case for people over the age of 50.
The law says that when people are over the age of 50, they can be found disabled if they are unable to perform their past work AND are physically limited to a sit down job. It should be noted, however, that these people must also not have any skills that would allow direct entry into a skilled sit down job. Essentially, the government does not want to make people learn an entire new trade at that age. Similarly, the law says that a person who is over the age of 55 and who is physically limited to light-duty work is disabled if such a person has no light-duty skills or past work experience.
Under these circumstances, a person could be “ready, willing, and able” to do light-duty or sedentary work and receive unemployment benefits until they either find a job or their Social Security Disability claim is approved.
If you find yourself disabled and unable to work, it is important to know what benefit programs are available for you. For that reason, the Packard Law Firm offers an initial free consultation with Mr. Packard, a board certified Social Security disability lawyer, so that you can be well-informed and make good decisions regarding your medical and financial situation.