Natalia Jofre: Hi. Welcome to Hill and Ponton social security disability blog. I’m Natalia Jofre, our social security section director.
Shelly Mark: I’m Shelly Mark. I’m the senior social security attorney.
Natalia Jofre: We’ve been talking about worker’s compensation and how it correlates with social security, and how they can affect each other. In one of our prior videos, we had talked about how you can’t receive more than social security and worker’s comp combined more than 80% of what your prior wage was. What they’re gonna look at is how much were you making before. People say what is that based on? Is it going to be what I was making now? The truth is that for the most part they’re gonna look at what benefits you the most. What gives you the highest monthly working wage. They’re gonna look at the five years before you became injured and they’re gonna pick the year that you made the most money in order to make that 80% calculation. There’s a difference between calculating the worker’s comp and social security offset amount and what you’re currently getting from worker’s comp. I know that this gets very complicated, but I feel like I need to say this because worker’s comp is gonna initially pay you based on 80% of what you were currently making. What we’re talking about is what are you gonna get, how are they gonna calculate your offset when it’s worker’s comp and social security combined? That’s all I’m referring to.
Natalia Jofre: They’re gonna look at the five years before you stopped working and they’re gonna look at which was the highest year. That, right off the bat, can really benefit you. Because, if you had five years where you were working and for four of those you were making $25,000 a year, but then you had a really good year and you made $60,000 that year, they’re gonna use that $60,000 year. We see this a lot with construction workers, independent contractors, things like that, where they just had a really good year, so that favors you. Another test that social security can use is a combination of your five years of work. You might be thinking why would they do that? You may have had a lump of five years where you were making a whole lot more money than you are currently. We see this all the time. People get older, they take on easier jobs, jobs that make less money. People that worked for maybe high-end corporations and they were maybe making three figures, and then they decided I’m gonna go out and go into business for myself. Now, instead of making $100,000 a year, they’re maybe making $20,000 a year. In that case, it may benefit you more to have social security do the five year total rule and pull the average out of that.
Shelly Mark: Natalia, when you say the five year, you mean throughout their earnings?
Natalia Jofre: Yes. It can be any sum of five years, but they have to be five years in a row. There’s always a kicker. You can’t say I made $100,000 in 2000, then I made $100,000 in 2005. No, no, no. It has to be 2001, 2002, 2003, so on and so forth. Has to be five years grouped together. That test doesn’t usually get applied because normally, as your life progresses, the more you make. Normally, they’re gonna use the highest year in the last five years. But, if you think that that exception could apply to you, you wanna make sure that you have someone that knows what they’re doing, is making sure that social security’s applying the test that best favors you. We’ve done a lot of worker’s compensation. We don’t do worker’s compensation law, we only do social security disability, but we do review your benefits once they’ve been awarded and if there’s a work comp offset we make sure that the offset that they’re applying-
Shelly Mark: Is correct.
Natalia Jofre: … is correct and that they’re using the test that best favors you. I will tell you that we have filed a lot of appeals because many times the best test that applies to you isn’t used. That’s a lot of information to digest. Just know that there’s more ways than one for your offset calculation to be made. I think that’s what we wanna impart today.
Shelly Mark: Yes.
Natalia Jofre: If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call us or visit our website. Otherwise, thank you for joining us.
Shelly Mark: Thank you.