By Anne-Marie Storey, Esq.
You are aware that you are entitled to an offset for receipt of social security retirement benefits, assuming certain circumstances are met (the benefits are specific to the employee rather than the spouse and started after the date of injury); section 221 allows you to coordinate those benefits to offset 50%. That is simple enough for ongoing payments. But, often you are not made aware of these benefits until the employee has been receiving them for a period of time. Is there any recourse to take a credit for the offset you should have received since the date the benefits began?
I believe that you do. One option is to request permission from the employee’s representative to take a credit for what should have been offset to make you current. If that permission is not given, however, you cannot simply take that credit on your own. However, there is a procedure for seeking that credit. I recommend filing a Petition to Determine entitlement to Reduction of Compensation, seeking an order from the Board allowing you to cease paying further lost wage benefits until exhausting the amount of the credit you should have been able to take.
This process was addressed by the Board in the decision of Victor Urrutia, (Employee), Case No.: 09018752B, 2014 WL 5118495 (ME. Work. Comp. Bd. Sept. 30, 2014). In that decision, the Hearing Officer concluded that the employer has the right to a credit for all periods for which the employee received old-age social security benefits and workers’ compensation benefits. He therefore granted the petition and allowed the employer to cease lost wage benefits payments until the credit is exhausted.