Workers’ compensation is an insurance and benefits system whereby workers injured on the job receive medical care, lost wages and retraining or rehabilitation for a different vocation if they are unable to return to their job due to an injury. Other benefits may include payments for certain defined disabilities and for families of workers killed on the job.
For older workers injured while in the course and scope of their employment and who have stopped looking for work, a major issue is whether they can receive both social security and workers’ compensation benefits or whether they’re considered “retired” and ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Some states allow employers to petition to cut off workers’ compensation benefits if the employee has retired. The issues for those states are who has the burden of proving the employee is retired, and what factors go into the determination.
In Colorado, workers’ compensation benefits and social security can be paid to the claimant simultaneously, but the workers’ compensation benefits are subject to social security benefit offsets, and to a reduction under an employer’s pension or disability plan. Although an injured employee can receive both social security and workers’ compensation, the total payments are limited to 80 percent of the income the employee earned before he or she became disabled.
Once an injured employee reaches age 65, permanent total disability (PTD) payments are reduced by 50 percent of any Federal OASDI (social security disability) payments, and for death by 100 percent.
There is no minimum for temporary total disability (TTD) or for permanent total disability payments, but the maximum is $807.24 per week. The maximum period of payments for TTD is the period of the disability, although PTD payments can be made for life. The lump sum maximum payment is $37,560.
If the employee were receiving unemployment benefits, any temporary or total disability benefits would be offset by 100 percent of the unemployment benefits received, with some exceptions. Determining social security and workers’ compensation benefits for a retiree can be complex and confusing. If you have any questions about what benefits you may be entitled to, speak with an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation matters.