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When Tennesseans are left with permanent and total disabilities from their jobs, they may be able to receive both workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits at the same time. The Social Security Administration may make adjustments to the amounts that they receive from Social Security, however. In general, the total that people can receive from a combination of workers’ compensation benefits and disability benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of their former salary.

How the Reduction Is Calculated

If people are already receiving workers’ compensation benefits for their work-related injuries, they should not wait to apply for Social Security disability benefits. The fact that they are receiving workers’ compensation benefits will not cause their claims to be denied. If their applications for disability benefits are approved by the Social Security Administration, the agency will look at the total amount of their disability benefits and their workers’ compensation benefits to determine whether the disability benefits need to be reduced. The agency will take 80 percent of the former average earnings and see if the workers’ compensation and disability benefits exceed that amount when they are added together. If they do, the agency will reduce the disability benefits by the amount that they exceed 80 percent of the former earnings.

People who are receiving certain other types of public benefits will not have their disability payments reduced, however. These include payments that they might receive from veterans’ benefits, supplemental security income, and state and local government benefits if the workers paid into Social Security at those jobs.

What Happens if Workers’ Comp Ends?

People whose workers’ compensation benefits end will have their Social Security disability payments increase if they were previously reduced. If there are other changes such as an increase or decrease in the amount of workers’ compensation benefits, people must report the changes to the Social Security Administration. When benefit payments change, the changes may affect the payment amounts from the Social Security disability program.

Why Apply for Both Programs?

Workers’ compensation or Social Security disability benefits alone may not provide people with 80 percent of their former incomes. By combining both types of benefits, people may enjoy higher benefits amounts so that it is easier for them to make ends meet.