Do Social Security Disability Benefits Affect My Injury Case?

December 1, 2022


Brent Eames

Social security disability benefits are provided by the federal government to qualifying individuals who are disabled from working. These benefits can overlap with other recoveries for disabling injuries, including claims for workers’ compensation, as well as claims for civil personal injuries. When these overlaps occur, what steps are required to be followed to ensure you do not run into any issues with the government? Keep reading to learn what top Personal Injury Attorney in Chicago, Brent Eames, says about your obligations when social security disability benefits overlap with your pending claim for injuries.

Workers’ Compensation

Given that SSDI benefits can overlap with the benefits provided by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, the rules set by the federal government provide a potential financial consequence for people collecting workers’ compensation benefits and SSDI at the same time in an attempt to avoid a double recovery for
the disabled individual. This is due to the fact that SSDI benefits are based upon an inability to earn wages from working, so if you are receiving the same benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act, the applicable laws are set up to avoid any double recoveries which would result in a windfall to the Petitioner. These federal rules can be triggered even when an injured worker applies for SSDI but has not yet received a final determination regarding their eligibility. Accordingly, if you receive SSDI benefits, or have applied for SSDI benefits, you must communicate this information with your attorney to confirm that all federal rules are being followed so we can attempt to maximize your net recovery.

In many cases, the individual’s SSDI benefits will be reduced if they are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. To minimize the impact of this reduction, any settlement in the workers’ compensation claim must contain “spread” language in the settlement contract, which would help designate any lump sum payment as representing payments over a lifetime. The Social Security Administration will take this information into account when reducing your SSDI benefits, and hopefully minimize the offset. So, even if you have not yet applied for social security disability at the time of the settlement of your workers’ compensation claim, if you intend to apply for these benefits in the future, you will need to communicate that information with your attorney so we can attempt to include this necessary spread language into the settlement agreement.

Similarly, if you are a Medicare beneficiary, or you reasonably anticipate becoming a Medicare beneficiary in the near future, federal regulations require us to take necessary legal steps to protect the interests of the federal government by confirming that we will not be transferring the burden of paying related medical bills to Medicare. This applies to both benefits which Medicare has paid in the past, and benefits which Medicare is anticipated to pay in the future. Prior to settling your case, we may be legally required to establish a so-called “set aside” account for future medical benefits to avoid placing any future obligations onto the federal government which are related to your case. This account is funded by the employer in your case, and it often can present a large obstacle for the potential settlement of a disputed claim. This process can be complicated and contentious, so communication with your attorney is crucial to make sure these legal obligations are fulfilled if you are a Medicare beneficiary, or if you anticipate becoming a Medicare beneficiary in the near future.

Civil Personal Injury

Generally, the settlement of a civil personal injury case should not have any impact on your social security disability benefits. This is due to the fact that the social security disability benefits are based upon your past income, and the personal injury settlement would generally not be considered income. However, social security beneficiaries also are Medicare beneficiaries. Whenever a Medicare beneficiary settles a personal injury case, there are very specific requirements and rules which need to be followed to ensure that Medicare has made no related payments. Regardless of whether a formal lawsuit has been filed, the claim must be reported to Medicare to ensure that the government has an opportunity to investigate to confirm that no payments have been made which are related to the accident. If these steps are not taken, and Medicare is not reimbursed for payments which it believes are related to your case, then Medicare will demand repayment from you directly.

The Eames Law Group is an experienced law firm that guides people who have suffered serious personal injuries. They help residents of Illinois gain their lives back after accidents, by managing medical bills and financial setbacks. Brent Eames has been recognized as one of the best personal injury lawyers in Chicago who will help people obtain the appropriate compensation and medical assistance after suffering an injury. For more information, contact us to meet with the Eames Law Group and learn about the legal services they offer.

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