How Does Military Pay Affect Eligibility for Disability Benefits?

Published on: May 28, 2015

Veterans' DisabilityAs a member of the military on active duty, or having military pay, you may be wondering whether or not you are still eligible for disability benefits. There isn’t much widespread documentation or information regarding resources for current and former military members and how they can actually expedite their claim for disability benefits.

Of course if you have a disability that’s service-connected, make sure you look into the Department of Veterans Affairs for VA disability compensation. Doing so will not disqualify you from other benefits, either. In fact, you may be eligible for both VA and Social Security disability benefits.

Military Pay

On its own, active duty status and receipt of military pay doesn’t bar Social Security disability payments. The key word here with the SSA is “substantial.” As long as you aren’t engaging in “substantial work for pay or profit,” you should be potentially eligible to receive SSD benefits. Don’t think about the amount of your pay as a restriction to getting benefits, because that does not affect eligibility.

However, it is your work activity that is evaluated. What are you doing despite your disability? Are you on limited duty, or in a therapy program? These are the factors to consider in your application to the SSA.

The Decision-Making Process

There are many parts of your SSA application that need to be evaluated in order to be considered for benefits. However, in this article we’d like to cover what will help expedite your claim over others.

Here are some pointers for you:

  • Make clear on your application immediately that your disability occurred while on active military duty, and your claim will be expedited

  • List all the military addresses where your medical records are located, as well as all physicians you have previously seen

  • Submit your application online and it will process faster

Also, be conscious that the SSA doesn’t make the final decision; it’s sent to a state disability determination services (DDS). Additional medical exams may be conducted in order to compile more information, if necessary. This will be at no cost to you. A number of factors must be taken into consideration when attempting to determine how long it will take for your claims to be processed to a decision.

Key Takeaway

Although the application for SSD benefits can be complicated, rest assured that your military pay doesn’t directly affect your eligibility for disability benefits. As long as you qualify, are on top of notifying the SSA regarding your work activity and don’t engage in “substantial work for pay or profit,” your application should be processed to a medical determination (unless there are other extenuating circumstances to your condition that don’t elicit benefits).

Still uncertain about what to do? Contact a trained disability advocate in order to learn more—while we at DEF can’t directly represent you for your VA claim, we are happy to represent you on your SSDI application and help in any way possible (we believe in disability benefits for veterans). We are experts in our field and possess wide expansive knowledge of SSD; contact us today with no obligation!


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