ILNews

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. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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