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Winter 2020   Volume 30, Number 1        

How Does WC Coordinate with Social Security and FMLA?

Social Security. When a worker becomes eligible for both workers' compensation and Social Security disability insurance benefits, one or both of the programs will limit benefits to avoid making excessive payments relative to the worker's past earnings. According to the Social Security amendments of 1965, Social Security disability benefits must be reduced (or "offset") so that the combined totals of workers' compensation and Social Security disability benefits do not exceed 80 percent of the workers' prior earnings.

Reverse Offset Laws. Fifteen states, however, established reverse offset laws prior to the 1965 legislation to specify that they would reduce workers' compensation payments if the worker receives Social Security disability benefits. Legislation in 1981 eliminated the option for other states to adopt reverse offset laws, but exempted the existing 15 states that already had such laws in place:

Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.

FMLA. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a federal law that provides workers time off to attend to serious health conditions that make them unable to perform their jobs. The time off can also be used to allow employees to attend serious medical needs of immediate family members. Although employees on FMLA leave receive no pay during their time off, they have the security of knowing they cannot be fired while they are on leave.

In situations where both the FMLA and workers' compensation laws apply, employers must provide leave under whichever law provides the greater rights and benefits to employees. If an injured worker is eligible for workers compensation, an employer cannot require the worker to take time off under FMLA.

When FMLA and Workers' Comp Both Apply. In addition, workers' compensation leave cannot be counted against a worker's FMLA leave entitlement. FMLA leave and workers' compensation leave can run concurrently if the reason for the employee's absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury and the employer properly notifies the employee in writing that the leave will be counted as FMLA leave.

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In this issue:

Risk Tip

Are Insurance Companies Prepared for Another 9/11?

How to Insure against Alleged Whistleblowers

6 Workers Compensation Regulation Trends to Watch in 2020

How Does WC Coordinate with Social Security and FMLA?



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