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Avoid Negatively Impacting Social Security Disability Benefits

Episode 78: Calloway County social security disability attorney Jeff Roberts discusses various factors such as a law suit settlement, lottery winnings and other income, so you can avoid negatively impacting social security disability benefits. 

There are 2 Different Social Security Disability Programs

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two different programs under the Social Security Administration.  Jeff explains that the disability determination is the same for both programs.  If you are considered disabled for one of the programs, you’re also considered disabled for the other program.

Benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program are based on what you paid into the system, over a specified period of time.  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are paid on a financial need basis.  SSI considers the income (and need) of the entire household, not just the disabled individual. 

As a general rule, any income resources can have an effect on SSI.  For this reason, income from a lawsuit settlement, lottery winnings, an inheritance, etc. will most likely negatively impact your social security disability benefits.

Jeff comments on how there are ways to protect those benefits, but again, income is a key factor in determining the benefits you receive under SSI.

Two Locations to Serve You

Jeff has two offices in Western Kentucky.  His primary office is in Murray, but he also has a secondary office in Hopkinsville (Christian County).  Jeff grew up in Mayfield and attended Murray State University.  He knows the Western Kentucky region very well.  He’s practiced law here for over 32 years.

Jeff regularly represents clients in Paducah, Bowling Green, Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky areas.  Because social security disability is a federal program, he is also licensed to represent clients in all 50 states.  His other practice areas (workers’ comp and personal injury) are limited to the state of Kentucky.

Attorney Jeff Roberts discusses how to avoid negatively impacting social security disability benefits

Does Unexpected Income Affect My SSDI Benefits?

To receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you have to have been judged 100% disabled.  As a general rule, you are not able to work.  The Social Security Administration considers both earned income and unearned income. 

Jeff explains that Social Security Disability considers proceeds from a lawsuit to be unearned income, and thus would not impact your disability.  For instance, if you are part of the Camp Lejeune lawsuit settlements, it would have no impact on your social security disability benefits.  The same logic would apply to a car wreck settlement or a motorcycle accident settlement. 

Nevertheless, if you are receiving social security disability benefits, you need to ask your attorney if the proceeds from a legal settlement, or verdict, could impact your disability benefits.  Even if your disability claim occurred several years ago.  Many people don’t realize it could be an issue for SSI recipients.

Not All Injury Attorneys Handle Social Security Disability, Workers’ Comp and Personal Injury

Jeff and his team at the Roberts Law Office actually do handled all three types of injury cases.  However, many personal injury firms don’t always handle the workers’ comp or the social security case.  For this reason, you need to be absolutely sure to inform your attorney or attorneys that you are involved in an injury claim and make sure everyone is on the same page.  If Jeff Roberts handles your disability claim, he could also handle the related claims.  This may ensure better coordination and potentially avoid a miscommunication between law firms.  This is one of the reasons Jeff has a good understanding of how to avoid negatively impacting social security disability benefits.

Could Income from a Lawsuit Impact VA Benefits?

Jeff doesn’t handle Veterans Administration disability benefits.  However, he’s had many clients who hired Jeff to handle their social security disability claim, while they were receiving VA benefits.  Murray and Hopkinsville, where Jeff has offices, is fairly close to Ft. Campbell. 

The Social Security Administration does not consider VA benefits to be earned income, so your VA benefits will not impact your social security disability benefits. 

Can Workers’ Comp Benefits Negatively Impact My Social Security Disability Benefits?

It’s possible that a workplace injury could result in a disability claim, as well.  Both cases can be pursued at the same time. There is a possibility that your workers’ compensation benefits and settlement could negatively impact your social security disability benefits, if not handled properly by the workers’ comp attorney.

The Social Security Administration does allow you to receive a certain amount of a combined benefits from workers’ compensation and social security disability.  If you exceed that amount, your social security disability benefits will be reduced by that overage.  Each individual will have a different threshold based on their average current earnings (“ACE figure”).  The cap or threshold is 80% of the ACE figure.

If you are receiving both workers’ compensation benefits and social security disability benefits, in excess of your ACE figure threshold, it’s possible that the Social Security Administration may not be initially aware of it.   However, when they do eventually figure it out, they can require you to pay back the excess amount your received.  They may demand a check in a little as 30-45 days.  This can be a significant problem for someone who’s unable to work.

There are ways to structure the workers’ comp settlement or to hold back any back pay received as part of your social security disability claim to minimize the negative impact on your disability benefits.  You’ll need to ensure you’re working with an experienced attorney who’s handling your workers’ comp and your social security disability claims.

Can My Disability Pension Benefits Negatively Impact My Social Security Benefits?

Some employers still offer a pension with a disability pension benefit.  Unions may also offer a disability pension as part of their membership package.  The benefits you receive from your disability pension do not negatively impact your social security disability benefits.

However, Jeff points out that your social security disability could negatively impact what you receive from your employer and/or union pension.  This may also be the case if you are a state employee receiving state disability benefits.

Can Long-Term Disability Benefits Negatively Impact My Social Security Disability Benefits?

More and more people are purchasing LTD insurance.  Again, the insurance won’t necessarily impact your social security disability, but your social security disability benefits could impact your long-term disability benefits. 

How Are Attorney Fees Handled in Social Security Disability Claims?

Jeff handles these on a contingency fee basis.  There is no upfront cost to speak with or to hire Jeff Roberts.  His fees and expenses are paid at the end of the case from the benefits he secures on your behalf.  In Episode 56, Jeff discusses how a contingency fee works.

The attorney fee is 25% of the past due benefits (“back pay”), and is subject to a cap by law.  The fee must be approved by the Social Security Administration, usually made by the administrative law judge handling the claim.  The cap is currently $7,200, but does change from time to time.  Jeff says it’s scheduled to increase in 2024.

What Do Other Clients Think About Jeff?

We always encourage listeners to read the Google Reviews Jeff Roberts has received from many of his clients.  A 5-Star rating and the comments are earned recognition and demonstrate Jeff’s commitment to his clients.  As a solo attorney, he has more Google Reviews than some firms with multiple attorneys.  Jeff shares the credit with his staff at the Roberts Law Office.  Successfully representing a victim of an automobile accident is a team effort.  It’s why Jeff likes to say his firm offers small town service with big city results.

Jeff Roberts Represents Injured Clients Throughout Kentucky

With offices located in Calloway County and now Christian County, Jeff has a history of representing personal injury clients, workers’ compensation clients and social security disability clients across the state.  He’s represented clients from Paducah, Bowling Green, Louisville, Covington, Whitesville and many other Kentucky locations.  He’s not just a Western Kentucky injury attorney. 

We hope you found this episode insightful and helpful.  Thank you for listening!                                                                                                 

Is It Time to Speak with an Attorney about Your Social Security Disability Claim?

The office phone number is (270) 753-0053 or toll free at 800-844-5108.  For more information, visit This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice.  Jeff’s principal office is located at 509 Main Street, Murray, Kentucky.  Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson.  This is an advertisement.