Is Social Security Reducing Your Benefit Because You Are Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Social Security will not allow you to make more than 80 percent of what you were making when you were working. Sometimes when you combine your Workers’ Compensation check with your Social Security check, the total amount will go above 80 percent of what you were making when you were working. When that happens, Social Security will reduce (also known as offset) your Social Security check until you get below 80 percent of what you were making before you were disabled.

For example, if you were making $30,000 per year before you became disabled, 80 percent of your salary would be $24,000 per year or $2000 per month. $2000 would then become the most you could make in Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation combined each month. Now suppose you were receiving $1300 a month in Worker’s Compensation benefits. The difference between $2000 and $1300 is $700. Therefore, Social Security would likely reduce your Social Security check to $700.

Obviously, every situation is different. You might not have an offset or your offset might be even larger than the one described above. If you want help calculating your offset, we would be happy to help. You might have options to get rid of your offset. Specifically, if done right, settling your Workers’ Compensation case can sometimes reduce or totally eliminate your offset.

Trump’s budget director revives a fact-free conservative attack on disability recipients

It’s not a good sign when the current budget director takes unsolicited shots at the SSDI program and the Americans who depend on it to survive.

In a recent interview, on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget director states, “Do you really think that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don’t think so.” Mulvaney went on to say, “It’s a very wasteful program, and we want to try and fix that.”

As attorneys who have represented tens of thousands of individuals suffering from a variety of physical and mental impairments, we disagree. While there are flaws in every system, the Social Security Disability program protects and helps millions of Americans who can’t work due to their severe medical impairments and resulting symptoms and limitations. The Social Security disability program provides help for individuals who have spent years working and paying into Social Security, only to encounter an unexpected trauma or diagnosis such as a debilitating car accident; multiple sclerosis; degenerative disc disease; traumatic brain injury; major depression, or any number of other physical or mental impairments. The program provides a bridge for individuals who may only be out of work for 12 months, due to a cancer diagnosis and treatment, for example, before returning to full-time employment.

Mulvaney may be right, people may not think of Social Security disability insurance when they think of Social Security, but they should. People should think about the millions of Americans who depend on disability to survive. Individuals who may have never been able to work due to a condition they were born with or, individuals who worked their whole lives, paying their taxes each paycheck, and never thinking they would be out of work due to a health condition, rendering them unable to pay their bills and in danger of losing their homes. Disability benefits are an extremely important and necessary part of Social Security and to our country.

Appeals Council: Standard of Review; What Happens next

If someone’s case has been denied by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), he or she may appeal that decision with the Appeals Council (A/C). The Appeals Council is a centralized body in Falls Church, VA which handles all disability appeals throughout the US.

The Appeals Council does not review a case the same way an Administrative Law Judge does. The ALJ reviews a case as “de novo”, meaning “fresh,” “new,” “starting over.” The ALJ is not bound by any prior determinations made before at the state agency levels of review.

The Appeals Council, however, will apply a more deferential standard once the ALJ has made his/her decision. The A/C typically does not review the case “de novo.” Therefore, some say, that it may be more difficult to win at the Appeals Council level of review than to win at the ALJ level of review.

If your case has been denied by an ALJ, and legitimate mistakes were made by the Judge, or, if significant evidence was missing, then often, the best next step is to appeal your case to the Appeals Council for review. For additional questions about your, or a friend or family member’s disability case, please feel free to contact us at 404-373-1649.

The regulation concerning Appeals Council Review is 20 CFR 416.1470 and states:

(a) The Appeals Council will review a case if—

(1) There appears to be an abuse of discretion by the administrative law judge;

(2) There is an error of law;

(3) The action, findings or conclusions of the administrative law judge are not supported by substantial evidence; or

(4) There is a broad policy or procedural issue that may affect the general public interest.

(b) In reviewing decisions based on an application for benefits, if new and material evidence is submitted, the Appeals Council shall consider the additional evidence only where it relates to the period on or before the date of the administrative law judge hearing decision. In reviewing decisions other than those based on an application for benefits, the Appeals Council shall evaluate the entire record including any new and material evidence submitted. It will then review the case if it finds that the administrative law judge’s action, findings, or conclusion is contrary to the weight of the evidence currently of record.