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Workers' Compensation: A Background for Social Security Professionals

By: Ann Clayton
Published: June 2005
This article was published in the June 2005 Social Security Bulletin. It was originally part of a policy research seminar co-hosted by the National Academy of Social Insurance and the Social Security Administration (SSA) on June 24, 2004. The seminar, titled Interaction of Workers' Compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance, brought together experts in both workers' compensation and disability programs to examine and emphasize the overlap between workers' compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance. Presenters and discussants at the seminar also proposed policies to improve the coordination and management of workers' compensation and Social Security for disabled Americans who are eligible for both programs.

 This article provides a brief history and background of workers' compensation programs for occupationally injured and ill workers in the United States. It presents the basic principle involved in workers' compensation and briefly discusses the disability benefits to which workers are generally entitled. It also discusses why there are settlements in this disability program and the availability of information about the amounts paid in workers' compensation cases for obtaining an offset for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits paid to the worker. Finally, the article explains the rationale behind the public policy on coordination of Disability Insurance and workers' compensation in the new paradigm of disability and return to work.