Can I Receive Social Security Disability Benefits and Permanent Total Disability Benefits From Workers’ Compensation at the Same Time in Florida?
Here at Harris Guidi Rosner, P.A., we are asked the very important question from our clients “Can I receive Social Security Disability benefits and Permanent Total Disability Benefits at the same time?” In Florida, the answer to this significant question, is yes, an injured worker can get both types of benefits at the same time, within certain established limits.
Because Florida workers’ compensation Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits are paid at the rate of 66 2/3% of an injured worker’s Average Weekly Wage (AWW), an injured worker qualifying for both PTD benefits and Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may receive combined payments more than his or her AWW. See Florida Statute 440.15(9)(a) and 42 U.S.C. s. 424(a).
Federal law allows the combined payments of SSD and PTD benefits to equal 80% of an injured worker’s Average Current Earnings (ACE). The ACE is determined by a calculation from the Social Security Administration to determine monthly SSD payments. Payments more than the 80% of the combined payments are subject to an offset.
The Carrier (the workers’ compensation insurance company) in Florida gets the ability to reduce payments to bring the combined benefits down to the 80% point. See Florida Statute 440.15(9)(a). Combined benefits under Florida’s system are capped at 80% of the injured workers’ AWW or 80% of the ACE, whichever is greater. The maximum amount of an offset carriers can take is the amount of the federal benefit. This remains true even if it results in the injured worker collecting more than his or her original AWW.
Because and injured workers’ AWW and his or her ACE are derived from different calculations, the two numbers may not be the same. See Florida Statute 440.14 for the AWW calculation process. The higher of the two numbers (the AWW and the ACE) must be used. Note, you may be asked to sign a DWC-14 form for the Carrier to obtain all the necessary calculations in your case, which is a normal step in the workers’ compensation process and allows the Carrier to correctly calculate the offset.
The offset does not include cost of living increases. See Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. V. Wood, 380 So.2d 558 (Fla. 1st DCA 1980). Cost of living increases are not added against the 80% cap.
Also, note that the offset ends when an injured worker turns age 65, as SSD benefits are converted to Social Security Retirement benefits. Lastly, the offset does not include 440.15(1)(f)1 supplemental benefits. Supplemental benefits are not added against the 80% cap. See Florida Statute 440.15(1).
If you have any questions about your entitlement to Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation PTD benefits simultaneously, please contact the workers’ compensation department at Harris Guidi Rosner, P.A. at (904) 777-7777 for a confidential, free consultation regarding your legal rights. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your case.