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. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

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  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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