Disabled veterans are able to receive VA disability benefits and Social Security disability benefits simultaneously, so it’s not uncommon for veterans to apply for both types of benefits at the same time. If you’re a disabled veteran, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you’re unable to work full-time. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must have worked full-time for at least five out of the last ten years. If you wait too long after you stop working to apply for SSDI benefits, you may no longer be eligible to receive them.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) also pays disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which provides benefits based on financial need. In order to be considered disabled by the SSA, you must be unable to perform any substantial work because of your medical condition and your medical condition should be expected to last for a continuous period of at least one year.
The SSA calculates your monthly disability benefits based on your earnings history in both the military and in civilian jobs you’ve held. On the other hand, your VA disability payments are based on how severe your disability is and not on your income. In order to qualify for VA disability compensation, you must prove that you have a service-connected disability. The SSA considers all impairments, whether they are service-connected or not.
Differences Between Social Security Disability and VA Disability
The primary difference between Social Security disability benefits and VA disability benefits is that you can qualify for VA disability compensation even if you’re not totally disabled. In the VA disability system, disability ratings are assigned at 10% increments from 10% to 100% disability and the benefits a claimant receives are based on that determination. Conversely, in the Social Security disability system, it is all or nothing.
Another major difference between the Social Security disability and VA disability programs it the role of treating physicians. Your treating physician’s opinion can make the difference between winning and losing your Social Security disability claim because the SSA gives deference to the opinions of treating physicians. In the VA disability program, however, your treating physician’s opinion isn’t given extra weight and decisions regarding whether or not to award benefits are based your entire file.
How Getting VA Approval Can Help You Get Social Security Disability Benefits
If you receive a very high disability rating from the VA (70% or higher), you are more likely to be approved for Social Security disability benefits. This is because another federal agency has already determined that your disability has made it very difficult or impossible for you to engage in full-time work.
Unfortunately, the VA gives the SSA’s decision little weight, so being approved for Social Security disability benefits won’t necessarily help you get VA disability benefits. This is because the SSA’s decision doesn’t make it clear whether the disability is service-connected. Nevertheless, claimants should provide the VA with their Social Security disability file and decision because the VA is required to consider your Social Security disability records when evaluating your claim.