It’s not uncommon for a service member to receive disability benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA) if their service left them with a permanent injury or illness.
But what about Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits? Can you receive SSD and VA disability benefits at the same time? Does one have any bearing on the other? Are both programs the same? Here’s what you need to know.
The decision process is different
The caseworker assigned to a VA disability case will generally comb through their service members’ medical records from when they were on active duty and assign them an impairment score of between zero and 100. A veteran’s monthly VA stipend will vary depending on the disability score that they receive — but even a 10% disability rating entitles you to benefits through the VA.
Social Security Disability is different in numerous ways. To qualify for SSD, you must have a condition or a combination of conditions that leave you completely unable to perform any substantial gainful work activity. There’s no rating system that compares to the VA’s process: For SSD, you either qualify as disabled or you do not.
However, there is one positive aspect to the SSD application process: If you file for Social Security Disability, the caseworker in charge of your case will look at all your medical problems and injuries — not just those related to your medical service. For that reason, you may qualify for SSD benefits even if your impairment rating with the VA is low, like 10-20%.
You can receive both benefits at the same time if you’re approved for each program.
Entitlement to SSD can be hard to win
Many SSD applicants fail their first time applying for benefits. An attorney here in New York can help you overcome a denial and obtain the benefits you need.