Social Security and workers' comp


Q. I work for the Postal Service as a mail carrier under FERS. Due to an on-the-job injury, I am receiving workers’ compensation. Can I also get Social Security disability (it is already approved), while receiving workers’ comp?

A. Yes, you can. However, according to the Social Security Administration, “The 1965 Social Security Amendments required that Disability Insurance benefits be reduced when the worker is also eligible for periodic or lump-sum workers’ compensation payments, so that the combined amount of workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits does not exceed 80 percent of the worker’s average current earnings. The combined payments after the reduction, however, will never be less than the amount of total Social Security disability benefits before the reduction. Average current earnings are defined as the highest of:

* The average monthly wage on which the unindexed disability primary insurance amount is based.

* The average monthly earnings from covered employment and self-employment during the highest five consecutive years after 1950, or

* The average monthly earnings in the calendar year of highest earnings from covered employment during the five years ending with the year in which disability began.

“Total earnings, including those above the Social Security taxable maximum, are used to determine average current earnings.

“The intent of the offset provision is to ensure that the combined benefits from workers’ compensation and Social Security are not excessive.”


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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