Can I Receive Veterans’ Disability Benefits if I Am Already Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?

Yes, you can be eligible to receive both VA Disability and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits at the same time.

The disability benefits offered by the department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) and those offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are both designed to help injured, disabled, or blind people maintain a certain quality of life for themselves and their families despite their impairments. While both of these programs aim to suit similar needs, they target different groups of people.

veteran benefits book

Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits are intended for veterans who have a debilitating injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during active military service. SSDI benefits are more simply intended to provide benefits to anyone injured or who became disabled and unable to return to work for that reason. If you were in the military and got hurt, a disability that gives you access to benefits through the VA does not limit your ability to collect benefits through Social Security.

If you have questions about qualifying for disability, maintaining eligibility, appealing a decision, or similar matters, you can refer to a VA Disability lawyer in Florida near you.

Differences Between VA Benefits and SSA Benefits

Qualifying

As long as you have not been dishonorably discharged, any disability that was incurred or aggravated during active service should be covered by VA benefits. In some cases, an injury that presents itself after active duty has ended can also be used to claim disability benefits through a post-service disability claim. The VA will rate your disability on a scale of 100, with increments of 10. A lot of factors relating to your injuries go into this rating. Generally speaking, the closer to 100 you are, the more limiting your disability or the more effect it has upon your life.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability is dependent only on a qualifying debilitating injury and work history. You must have an ailment that keeps you from returning to work at full pre-injury capacity, and you must have been working a job while contributing Social Security taxes through income withholding or at year-end filing. The SSA operates on a simpler system than the VA in that they either consider you disabled or not, without the use of any sliding scale for severity.

Benefits

VA benefits are based on the scale mentioned above. For example, someone with a 10% rating according to the VA might expect a relatively small monthly payment. The cost of living for your area and other considerations may be factored in, as well. For a single person with no children, the lowest possible payment for a 10% rating in 2021 is around $140 a month. 

At 100% VA disability, comparatively, the maximum possible monthly payment is around $3,100 a month. As you can tell, the specifics of your case play a very large role in determining your monthly allowances, according to VA policies and procedures.

Social Security Disability is based entirely on your average earnings throughout the course of your life. If the SSA finds that you’re disabled, your payments will be based solely on how much you made in the past, without any regard for the severity of your disability.

Reviews

Reviews are used to determine if your health has improved since an initial disability claim was approved.

The VA generally conducts two reviews to evaluate your continued disability. One happens about six months after your active service ends. If you develop a disability after you’re discharged from the military, this initial review will take place 6 months from the date your original claim was approved. A second review will take place 3–5 years after your initial claim began or after you were discharged with a recognized disability. 

The SSA conducts reviews a bit more regularly and bases the amount of time between reviews on the likelihood of your recovery. For disabilities that are expected to get better, you can expect reviews every 6-18 months. For disabilities that might get better, every 3 years is more common. For disabilities that are unlikely to improve, normal reviews occur every 7 or so years.

Expedited SSDI Processing for Veterans

Veterans sometimes qualify for methods of expediting the SSA disability process. Veterans with a 100% total and permanent disability rating from the VA will qualify, and they should indicate their VA injury status on their Social Security Disability Insurance application. Expedited applications may also be awarded to any veteran who suffered a physical or mental disability through SSA Wounded Warriors

Supplemental Security Income Can be Affected by VA Benefits

Outside of standard disability through the SSA, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to those who have suffered injuries that keep them from returning to work. This benefit is typically reserved for those who meet a strict standard of economic hardship. It is also available to those who have not necessarily contributed the needed amount to Social Security. 

Eligibility for SSI benefits is affected by other forms of compensation you receive as income, including benefits offered by the VA. SSI is designed to help people on a purely financial need basis, although disability status can broaden the eligibility criteria used. Put simply, your VA Disability benefits may count as enough income to disqualify you from receiving SSI, in some instances. 

Also, know that If you receive money for an injury through the VA and do begin to receive SSI, it is very likely that your VA Disability compensation will be reduced directly by the amount you receive.

Get Help With Your VA or SSA Disability Benefits Today

There is generally no conflict with receiving both VA disability benefits and SSDI benefits, as they’re meant to target different things. 

That said, collecting benefits from both the VA and the SSA can be a little tricky at times. It’s usually worth it to get in touch with a Florida VA disability lawyer who can guide you through the process and make sure you’re not missing out on any of the funding you deserve. Give Hoskins & Turco a call at (866) 460-1990 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to go over the details of your disability case today.

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