It’s common for a disabled worker to receive both weekly benefits under the workers’ compensation system (a state benefit), in addition to social security disability benefits (a federal benefit). While you can receive both benefits simultaneously, the social security disability benefits are reduced while receiving workers’ compensation.
Under 39-A M.R.S. § 221, when you receive “old-age” social security benefits at the same time as receiving weekly benefits under the workers’ compensation system, the workers’ compensation insurer can reduce the amount paid to you by fifty percent of the amount you receive for social security retirement benefits. The insurer, however, is not allowed to reduce weekly benefits if you were receiving social security retirement benefits prior to the work injury. The insurer also cannot reduce weekly benefits for this reason if your spouse receives social security retirement benefits.
For example, a worker receives $500.00 per week from the workers’ compensation insurer. The worker also begins receiving $1,000.00 per month in social security retirement benefits, or $250.00 per week. The workers’ compensation insurer can reduce the weekly benefits by $125.00 per week (50% of $250.00) when the worker begins receiving retirement benefits.
While you are eligible to receive social security retirement benefits at 62 years of age, there are good reasons to delay receipt of those benefits. First, your retirement benefit will increase the longer you wait to receive the benefits. Additionally, if you delay receipt of retirement benefits, you can continue to receive your normal weekly benefits under the State Act.
This offset rule applies to cases under the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act, and not Longshore. If you live in another state, there may be different rules regarding social security retirement benefits and receipt of weekly workers’ compensation benefits. If you have questions about the effect of retirement benefits on your weekly benefits, don’t hesitate to call us.