Worker's Social Security benefits don't end entitlement to TTD benefits
Horn v. Gra-Gar, LLC, No. A-12-672 (Neb. Ct. App. 07/23/13).
The Nebraska Court of Appeals held that a worker was entitled to temporary total disability benefits beginning after his second back surgery.
What it means: In Nebraska, a worker's award of Social Security disability benefits does not automatically disqualify him from receiving workers' compensation benefits.
Summary: A worker suffered a work-related injury when the hood of a work truck fell on top of him while he was attempting to jump-start the truck's battery. He was prescribed pain medication, muscle relaxants, and injections for his lower back and ultimately required surgery. The worker resigned from his employment after experiencing symptoms from a nonwork-related brain tumor. The worker received Social Security disability benefits for his nonwork-related chronic manic depression and tremors. A loss of earning capacity analysis determined that the worker had a 70 percent loss of earning capacity. The worker underwent a second back surgery. Later, his doctor opined that he was unemployable. The worker sought benefits. The Nebraska Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to temporary total disability benefits.
The employer asserted that because the worker was not employed and was collecting Social Security disability benefits for nonwork-related conditions at the time of his second back surgery he was not entitled to TTD benefits. The court disagreed, explaining that the worker resigned due to his brain tumor, not his back injury. During the next two years, he continued to suffer from back pain and his brain tumor remained stable.
Before his second surgery, his physical limitations associated with his back injury would not allow him to engage in the type of work he had performed for the employer. However, his limitations did not completely disqualify him from all employment. The worker's doctors did not state that he was unable to work until after his second back surgery. The court found no evidence that he was disabled by a condition unrelated to his work at the time of his second surgery.
The court pointed out that the worker had some residual earning capacity before his second surgery despite the award of Social Security disability benefits. The court explained that an injured worker can receive both workers' compensation and Social Security benefits.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
October 21, 2013
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