Social Security Offset in Labor and Industries (L&I) Claims

What is Social Security Offset?

An offset is a reduction in money benefits when two different systems are paying. A Social Security Offset is a money benefit reduction in either L&I or SSD benefits when an injured worker is receiving benefits from both systems.

Can I Receive Both L&I and Social Security Benefits?

An injured worker can receive both L&I and Social Security benefits. However, when an injured worker qualifies for benefits under both systems, there is often an offset. It is the offset that keeps this double dipping from resulting in doubling of benefits for some injured workers.

L&I Pension or Time Loss Together with a Social Security Benefit

There is a statutory offset that will be taken when and if the total combined benefit (from L&I and SSD) is greater than 80% of the claimant’s average current earnings. Average current earnings (ACE) are usually calculated by looking at the highest years earnings during the five years prior to the onset of the disability or any 5-year average which is higher. The offset can occur with L&I pension, time loss, or a structured CRSA. Arguably no offset for a “death benefit” widows’ pension. No offset with PPD or a lump sum CRSA when paired with Social Security Disability benefits. (There are different rules for SSI.) If your earnings as calculated above are higher than the 80% figure, then you are ACE high and not subject to an offset.  You can get your earnings history from the Social Security website.

The offset formula according to Social Security can be found in 42 USCA. and the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) at POMS DI 52120.265. Social Security pays full benefits and take the offset from your L&I time loss, pension, voc. money and PPD, when you are ages 62 – 65. The offset during this period can be brutal. Delays by SSA in taking an offset are not time limited and can wreak havoc with your benefits.

The offset formula according to L&I can be found in RCW 51.32.220. L&I pays full benefits and takes the offset from your Social Security benefits when you are less than age 62 or older than age 65. Offsets are technical and complicated. Delays by L&I in taking the offset are subject to a one-year recoupment rule.

Social Security Offset Calculator (WA State)

To get help with a Social Security Offset and to learn more about the rules contact the L&I Social Security Offset unit at 360-902-5119.

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Christopher Sharpe is the go to attorney for injured persons. His law firm is helpful, honest, and knowledgeable about workers' compensation and personal injury law in the State of Washington. Chris has been helping injured Washington State workers for over 40 years. He has built a successful law practice by thoroughly educating, honestly helping, and successfully representing workers throughout Washington State.

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