Social Security doesn't go toward threshold

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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Social Security benefits can't be counted toward the threshold amount of benefits that a person has to get in order to be eligible for benefits from Indiana's Second Injury Fund, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

The court tackled the issue of first impression in James Kohlmeyer v. Second Injury Fund, No. 93A02-0711-EX-1000, in which James Kohlmeyer argued Social Security benefits he received after becoming permanently totally disabled as a result of a work accident should count toward the threshold dictated under Indiana Code Section 22-3-3-13(h)(2).

In order to become eligible for Second Injury Fund benefits, the applicant has to exhaust his or her benefits, which in Kohlmeyer's case was a total of $154,665. The worker's compensation benefits he received only totaled $136,381.82; however, if he factored in the nearly $30,000 he received in Social Security benefits, he would reach the threshold amount.

The Indiana Court of Appeals admits Kohlmeyer makes a plausible argument in favor of counting Social Security benefits - he argued the terms "benefits" and "compensation" in the Indiana Worker's Compensation Act are separate terms with separate meanings. He claimed that because the act specifies he is entitled to "compensation" from the Second Injury Fund, that term must mean worker's compensation funds, and that "benefits" include those funds and Social Security benefits.

Because "compensation" and "benefits" aren't defined in the act, the judges determined that when viewed as a whole, those two terms used in Section 22-3-3-13(h) are synonyms with respect to this issue, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

"We conclude instead that the best interpretation of the Act is that it addresses only Worker's Compensation benefits and compensation. In so doing, we necessarily reject Kohlmeyer's claim that the Act neglects to mention Social Security benefits because the statute was written long ago and no one made this argument before," he wrote.

The opinion also addresses the argument Kohlmeyer made that he is entitled to payments from the Second Injury Fund. In the agreement between Kohlmeyer and his employer, it stated he was able to apply for Second Injury Fund benefits, but not that he was entitled to them. When he applied, he didn't meet the threshold requirements, so he was denied, the judge wrote.

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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues