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The Basics of a Social Security Disability Offset

January 31, 2019 Blog

Tampa Disability Lawyers – Helping You When You Need it Most

Many disability claimants worry about their receipt of compensation through a variety of sources, and how that might impact their Social Security disability benefits.

Generally speaking, the claimant has to consider the possibility of an “offset” — or reduction to their benefits — and plan accordingly.  The application for an offset can be rather confusing to those who are unfamiliar with the disability claim process.  Put simply, in Florida (and throughout the United States) one’s receipt of disability benefits can be significantly affected by the source and amount of such benefits, among other factors.

All this legalese can be headache-inducing, so let’s keep things as simple as possible.  For a clearer understanding of disability benefits offsets, we’ll take a closer look at the conceptual basics.

What is an Offset?

Social Security disability benefits may be offset (reduced) if the claimant is receiving combined workers’ compensation and social security disability benefits that exceed 80 percent of their pre-disability earnings.  This rule is intended to prevent the claimant from earning in excess of their prior earnings, and to therefore ease the burden on the public when such benefits payments are unnecessary.

Calculating the Offset

When calculating the offset to Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will evaluate your annual earnings (prior to the disability), your workers’ compensation benefit, and your Social Security disability benefit.  If your workers’ compensation benefit and Social Security disability benefit exceeds the 80 percent threshold (referenced against your annual earnings amount) then there will be an offset to bring the benefits down below that threshold.

A significant element of the offset calculation is determining what your annual earnings amount actually is, as that will define the 80 percent “highest annual earnings” threshold for one’s benefits.  In determining the highest annual earnings, the Social Security Administration will use either the highest annual earnings in the five years immediately prior to the disability at issue or will use the average earnings of any five years during the claimant’s working career prior to the disability (whichever is higher).

Many Benefits Are Protected

It’s important to understand that most benefits you receive will not be included in the offset calculation: only workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security benefits.

Private disability benefits (i.e., long-term disability benefits received through a private policy that you purchased), private pension benefits, negotiated settlements or trial verdicts in a related personal injury lawsuit, and more — the receipt of such benefits will not impact your Social Security disability benefits negatively, as they have no bearing on the offset calculation whatsoever.  It’s entirely possible that you will receive more than your pre-disability annual earnings, all things considered.

Contact Our Experienced Tampa Disability Lawyers for a Free and Confidential Consultation

Attorney Mike Murburg has spent many decades exclusively handling disability claims and disputes relating to Social Security benefits.

Over the years, Attorney Murburg has worked with numerous claimants, assisting them at every step of the process, from the submission of an airtight disability claim, to the appeal, to litigation (if necessary).  This career-long focus has given him a keen understanding of what it really takes to secure the maximum potential benefits for his clients.

Call 813-264-5363 or submit a message through our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation with our experienced Tampa disability lawyers here at the Office of Mike Murburg, P.A. for further guidance.