High-One Formula

Social Security Attorneys Advising Residents of Massachusetts

If you have been injured at your job and are no longer able to work, you may be entitled to several different forms of benefits to support you during your time of unemployment, including workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). While these benefits are meant to give individuals the lifeline they need in order to focus on their own medical care and recovery, they cannot become a means for an individual to amass significant cash and resources. For this reason, the Social Security Administration carefully tracks the incomes of those who receive SSDI and works to ensure that benefits are appropriately limited and distributed only to those in need. If you are currently receiving workers’ compensation in Massachusetts or another form of benefits, the Social Security lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., are available to assist you.

Balancing the Benefits You Receive

When you apply for benefits with the SSA, one of the steps that it will take in evaluating your application is to inquire as to whether you are a recipient of any other federal or state benefits. Most often, this occurs when individuals receive both SSDI and workers’ compensation. The SSA will then ask you for information on how much you are already receiving in benefits in order to evaluate your maximum allowable amount under the SSDI program. This is known as an “offset,” and essentially the SSA will offset your benefits by the amount of workers’ compensation you receive.

In calculating your offset, the SSA uses the rule that no beneficiary should receive more than 80% of his or her pre-disability income from a benefit program. Thus, an applicant cannot use workers’ compensation and SSDI to receive the same income as a prior salary or to receive more income than he or she received on the job.

What is the 80% Threshold?

While calculating 80% of pre-disability income is easy for some individuals who were employed in salaried positions prior to becoming disabled, it can be more complicated for others. For instance, if an individual changed jobs or received a raise in the months before applying for benefits, or is self-employed, it may not be as simple as looking at paystubs or tax returns. Instead, the SSA must use several related tests to consider what that person’s average earnings would be.

In order to give applicants the maximum benefits to which they could be entitled, the SSA uses three different tests to evaluate average earnings and takes the highest of these three tests. The most common is simply using the average monthly wage that would normally be the basis for SSDI. However, for those with inconsistent or varied monthly income, the SSA also considers the “high five” amount or the “high one” amount. Here, we will discuss the high one amount.

The “high one” amount is basically the average monthly earnings that an individual had over the course of one year. That year can be either the year the person became disabled and applied for benefits, or any one year within the last five years. This method is particularly helpful for individuals who have had a significant year of income within the past five years. It also gives applicants the most control over the financial records considered by the SSA.

Seek Legal Guidance in Massachusetts When Applying for Government Benefits

If you are applying for SSDI while also receiving workers’ compensation, it may be important to take the time to evaluate what offset you might receive as a result of your double-benefit situation. While your overall average monthly benefits might provide a consistent amount of income that minimizes the offset, the “high one” test for calculating monthly earnings can be particularly helpful for those applicants who would like to establish an average monthly earnings rate based on a particularly good financial year. The government benefits attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., can help explain the SSDI eligibility process to Massachusetts residents. Based in the Boston area, we advise individuals throughout Plymouth, Norfolk, Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex Counties. For more information, contact us at (800) 367-0871 or online.