Supreme Court of Minnesota Reverses W.C.C.A. Decision on Offset of Public Employee Retirement Benefits

In the recent decision of Ekdahl v. Independent School District #213, the Supreme Court of Minnesota held that the phrase “old age and survivor insurance benefits,” as used in Minn. Stat. § 176.101, subd. 4 (2012), refers to social security benefits under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-34 (2012). The decision reversed the holding of the W.C.C.A., which determined that employers/insurers could offset payment of permanent total disability benefits to an employee by retirement benefits paid pursuant to a public pension plan, after $25,000.00 in disability benefits had been paid. The Court’s decision does not affect the offset for disability benefits paid to an employee by any government disability program. Although the decision determined that the statute allows an offset for “all social security benefits,” the Court went on to state it did not purport to decide which social security programs are subject to the offset provision.