pHandPenAndWorkInjuryForm_7723676_sRules regarding public disability benefits and SSD

The Illinois Public Employees Disability Act provides benefits to qualifying public workers who have suffered disabling work-related injuries. These workers may receive benefits equal to their full salaries for up to one year. Still, some workers may wonder about the availability of other benefits. As a Chicago disability attorney can attest, these workers may also be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

Qualifying for benefits under the Illinois Public Employees Disability Act does not preclude an individual from seeking SSD benefits. However, disabled individuals must meet distinct criteria to qualify for SSD benefits. Additionally, for some employees who receive benefits under the Act, collecting concurrent SSD benefits may not be an option.

SSD qualification criteria

Disabled individuals must have adequate work and earnings records to qualify for SSD benefits. If a person lacks sufficient earnings, the person cannot collect benefits. This holds true regardless of the severity of the person’s impairment or the person’s eligibility for other disability benefits.

Besides satisfying earnings criteria, people claiming SSD benefits must fulfill a specific definition of disabled. The Social Security Administration considers a person disabled if the following criteria are met:

  • The person suffers from a medical condition that is terminal or anticipated to last at least 12 months.
  • This condition prevents the person from engaging in work he or she previously performed.
  • The person cannot reasonably pursue other forms of work, given the disability and other factors.

Some workers who receive benefits under the Act may not meet these criteria. The Act provides benefits without considering the expected duration of a worker’s condition. Additionally, employees who might perform other work can collect benefits under the Act. Therefore, as a Chicago disability attorney could explain, qualifying for benefits under the Act does not guarantee eligibility for SSD benefits.

Complicating factors

In some cases, receiving benefits under the Act may prevent an employee from simultaneously collecting SSD benefits. The SSA adjusts SSD awards to ensure that an individual’s total public disability benefits do not exceed a set threshold. If these benefits surpass 80 percent of the worker’s average current earnings, the worker cannot collect SSD benefits. The full salary benefits awarded under the Act may prevent some workers from receiving SSD benefits.

A worker’s average current earnings and current salary aren’t always equivalent amounts, however. As a Chicago disability attorney understands, the SSA calculates average current earnings using a worker’s highest recent earnings. If a worker’s benefit under the Act falls far enough below the worker’s average current earnings, the worker may collect SSD. Otherwise, workers may pursue SSD benefits after the public disability benefits awarded under the Act terminate.