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Washington: No Adjustment for Inflation Required In Computing Social Security Offset

April 10, 2015 (1 min read)

In computing the social security offset required under Wash. Rev. Code § 51.32.220, the state’s Department of Labor and Industries need not adjust the claimant’s wages for inflation, held a state appellate court. The statute requires that a claimant’s workers’ compensation disability benefits be reduced by either the amount the person receives in social security benefits or by an amount calculated under 42 U.S.C. § 424a(a), whichever is less. The amount of the offset under 42 U.S.C. § 424a(a) is ordinarily the amount by which a claimant’s combined monthly disability and social security benefits exceed 80 percent of the claimant’s “average current earnings,” which, in the case of the claimant, was equal to one-twelfth of the claimant’s highest annual earnings during the year of disability: 1983. Here the DLI calculated the offset under 42 U.S.C. § 424a(a) based on the claimant’s 1983 earnings. He argued that DLI should have adjusted his 1983 earnings to present value when calculating his offset. Indeed, a present value adjustment would have lowered the amount of the offset considerably. The appellate court rejected the argument, holding that § 51.32.220 and 42 U.S.C. § 424a(a)(8) unambiguously required that the offset be calculated using claimant’s unadjusted 1983 income.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to

See Birgen v. Department of Labor and Indus., 2015 Wash. App. LEXIS 745 (Apr. 7, 2015) [2015 Wash. App. LEXIS 745 (Apr. 7, 2015)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 157.03 [157.03]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.









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