VA Disability and Social Security Benefits
There are occasions when a veteran may have both VA disability and Social Security disability claims at the same time. Other times, a veteran may receive veterans’ disability benefits before they apply for SS disability.
An award of VA disability benefits, also called service-connected disability compensation, does not depend on a veteran’s income so they can receive veterans’ disability compensation as well as Social Security disability insurance or SSDI at the same time. Aside from those, one can also apply for VA pension. It is a needs-based program which is like Supplemental Security Income or SSI which is paid to veterans who have minimal to no income and are also disabled. Their disability may be due to non-service related conditions.
Differences of the VA Disability and Social Security Disability Benefits
The most important difference between VA disability and Social Security disability benefits is that you don’t need to be totally disabled to be qualified for VA compensation. Most veterans who are receiving veterans’ disability do not receive a rating of total disability. If a veteran receives a 10% disability rating, they may still receive the disability benefits.
On the other hand, Social Security disability does not consider partial loss of employability. The Social Security Administration or SSA will qualify applicants either as totally disabled or not disabled. To understand this better, read about how the SSA defines disability, found here – https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/dqualify4.html.
How Does a Veteran Apply for Disability Benefits?
Veterans may apply for Social Security disability benefits at any time while they are in military status or after they are discharged. This is true whether they are still hospitalized, in a rehabilitation program, or undergoing outpatient care. It does not matter if the outpatient treatment is received in a military or a civilian medical facility.
You can apply online for disability benefits at the comfort of your home by visiting this site – https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityonline/ and following the steps to complete your application. Make sure to provide accurate and complete information in order for your application not to be returned or rejected. Otherwise, if you prefer to apply in person, you can simply go to the Social Security office near you which you can locate from here – https://www.ssa.gov/locator/. You can also apply by mail or via phone.
Your file will be assigned to a disability examiner. They will collect your medical records and consult with a physician to either approve or deny your application. You can learn more about Social Security disability benefits here – https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi/.
When you apply for both SS disability and VA disability benefits, your medical records in your Social Security file could help prove or serve as evidence for your VA disability claim. The VA will receive your entire Social Security file as well as the decision about your application. It is the VA’s duty to request these documents. Make sure that you have your own copies of the documents you submit before submitting them especially those that are difficult to obtain.