A Guide to Social Security Disability for Veterans

Disabled veterans may be eligible for both Veterans Affairs (VA) disability payments in addition to Social Security disability benefits. This is because although both programs offer supplemental financing, they have different application requirements and processes. Some veterans may receive VA benefits before applying for Social Security, or alternatively may begin receiving Social Security disability while waiting on VA benefits – it depends on each person’s individual situation. To help you better understand how these two government assistance programs work in conjunction, we’ve put together a brief guide to Social Security disability for veterans below.

The Difference Between Social Security and Veterans Affairs Benefits

The primary difference between VA and Social Security disability for veterans is that the VA uses a sliding scale to determine how disabled a person is, using a 0 to 100 scale for distributing benefits; it’s based on how much a condition impacts one’s ability to function. Alternatively, the Social Security Administration (SSA) either finds you fully disabled – and therefore not able to perform any substantial gainful activity – or not disabled at all.

As a veteran, you can apply for Social Security disability benefits at any time, regardless of your military status. This could mean you have been discharged, are in rehabilitation or hospitalized, or are undergoing outpatient treatment. 

What Qualifies a Veteran for Disability Compensation?

To qualify for VA disability, you must have been injured, developed a medical condition, or had a preexisting condition exacerbated as a result of your time serving in the military. You must be able to prove to the VA that your medical condition is directly connected to your service, which can be a complicated and time-consuming process requiring sufficient medical evidence. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a formal list of medical impairments that are eligible to qualify for SSDI, called the Blue Book. This list includes a variety of conditions, ranging from cancer to mental health illness, and serves as a general guide for disability applicants. Ultimately, your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits is dependent on your level of work activity capability – receiving VA disability doesn’t prevent you from also receiving SSDI.

It’s important to remember that just because you qualify for one of these programs doesn’t mean you automatically qualify for the other – you must apply to each separately and go through the application process. If you receive Permanent or Total disability recognition from VA or even if your VA claim is denied, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits.

Contact the Disability Attorneys at Woodruff & Mathis

If you are a veteran, working with the right Social Security disability attorney can make the application process easier and help improve your chances of receiving benefits. To learn more about how veteran status can impact SSDI benefits or inquire about your particular situation, please request an appointment with the attorneys at Woodruff & Mathis today.