Veterans and Disability Benefits: What are my Social Security Disability Options?

Published on: July 6, 2017

Veterans and Disability Benefits: What are my Social Security Disability Options?

There are several circumstances under which veterans can qualify for social security disability benefits. These benefits could be in addition to any compensation they are receiving from the VA. In order for veterans to qualify for disability benefits from the SSA, they have to have a disability that prevens them from participating in any substantial gainful activity.

This article will explore the veterans and disability benefits and options:

Eligibility for SSA Benefits

There are two important criteria that veterans need to meet before they are eligible for SSA disability benefits. The first is that their disability should precent them from engaging in full-time employment or in any other substantial gainful activity. This disability should be expected to last for at least one year (or have already lasted for one year), or result in death. The second is that they should have worked full-time for at least 5 of the last 10 years.

There are two programs that the SSA offers with regards to disability. These are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on how much you have worked (work credit gained) and SSI is based on how much income you are receiving.

Generally, veterans are more likely to receive SSDI because it pertains more to their inability to work, and the benefits received are often higher. In addition, eligibility to receive SSA benefits is independent of how long you were in active service.

Calculating Your SSA Disability Benefits

The monthly benefits that you will receive from the SSA will be dependent on how much you have earned in the past, both as a civilian and during active duty. The SSA uses a complicated formula to calculate your benefits, where they factor in your lifetime earnings for up to 35 of your working years. Your earnings are averaged and weighted in accordance with the years where you earned the largest amount of income.

How the SSA determines your benefits differs from the VA. The VA considers the severity of your disability and uses a rating system where more severe disabilities receive more compensation.

If you are receiving both SSA benefits and a VA pension, your SSA payments could cause your total income to surpass the limits that are allowed for receipt of a VA pension. This could cause you to become ineligible for the pension.

SSA Disability Benefits vs. VA Benefits

There are several differences between receiving SSA disability benefits and receiving benefits from the VA. The SSA benefits are determined primarily based on your inability to work and the amount of your taxable earnings throughout your career.. You could receive SSA benefits in addition to the benefits that you may be receiving from the VA. VA disability benefits are only received if you became disabled as a direct result of an incident during your active service. In addition, you can be eligible for VA benefits with both partial and total disability. Unlike the SSA, it is not necessary for you to have a total and permanent disability in order to qualify for VA benefits.

Because SSA benefits are based on your inability to work, they can be collected even if you were dishonorably discharged from the military. Your specific situation with the military does not prevent you from receiving benefits from the SSA. The VA, on the other hand, takes the nature of your discharge into consideration when determining your eligibility to receive benefits.

VA disability also comes in two types; VA compensation and VA pension. VA compensation is determined according to your active service, while VA pension is based on your income.

The Application Process

When applying for SSA benefits, you need to collect sufficient medical evidence documenting how your disability is preventing you from working. You also need to submit documentation from your previous employment and supporting documents from the VA that provide additional evidence of your disability.

Your SSA disability application may qualify for fast tracking when being processed. Veterans who have received a 100% permanent disability rating through the VA are entitled to expedited processing. In addition, those who served after October 1, 2001, and became disabled due to their service also qualify for fast processing.

In conclusion, veterans are eligible for SSA benefits regardless of their status with the VA. The SSA determines disability benefits based on your inability to work, while the VA utilizes different criteria. While there may be some similarities between the two programs, veterans should pay attention to how each program (and particularly the SSA) determines disability and their eligibility to receive benefits.


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