Both the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) offer disability benefits for individuals with severe medical impairments. However, the criteria for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is different than the criteria for Veteran’s benefits.
In this post, we’ll briefly review how the programs differ so individuals can determine which program is a good fit for them.
Disabled Veterans Benefits
Disabled Veterans Benefits are a tax-free benefit paid to disabled service members. They are reserved for individuals who have a service-related injury or illness. Or, for Veterans whose service made an existing condition worse. In addition to monthly benefits, disabled Veterans may qualify for housing assistance, and are also entitled to access to medical care, and many other benefits.
In the event of a Veteran’s death, a surviving spouse, dependent child, or parent can also apply for benefits.
How much a disabled Veteran receives in monthly benefits depends on the rating the VA assigns to their service-connected disability or condition. If a Veteran applies on the basis of multiple medical conditions, the VA assigns a single, combined disability rating.
The VA has an incremental disability rating. This means, they assign partial disability based on the severity, frequency, and duration of your symptoms. The higher percentage the examiner assigns, the higher your monthly payment.
Disability ratings for Veteran’s start at 10% and increase to 100% disabled while monthly benefits range from $144 to $3,146 per month based on the disability rating.
In addition, service members who suffered a severe impairment like the loss of a limb or blindness may qualify for additional monthly compensation from the VA.
For more information about Veterans disability benefits, visit www.va.gov.
Social Security Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. These programs have the same definition of disability but have different eligibility requirements.
Social Security Disability (SSDI)
Social Security Disability (SSDI) is a Federal insurance program designed to help people with disabilities who are no longer able to work because of one or more severe medical conditions. Disabled workers are eligible to apply for SSDI if they have worked long enough and earned sufficient wages over the past 10 years. To be “fully insured” for purposes of eligibility, a worker’s Social Security account must be credited with at least 20 quarters of earnings in the past 10 years, or 40 quarters.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the SSA’s financial needs-based program for disabled individuals with income and assets below a certain level.
A person is “disabled” according to SSA if they have a severe medical impairment or combination of impairments lasting or expected to last 12 months or more. During that year, your condition must prevent you from working and earning what is considered “substantial and gainful” income. While many of our clients are over age 50, injury or illness can impact a person at any stage of their life.
If you have earned sufficient work credits for SSDI or meet the financial need-based criteria for SSI benefits, you may qualify for benefits any time prior to full retirement (66-67 for most people).
Can I Apply for Veterans Disability Benefits and Social Security Disability Benefits?
The short answer is yes. Veterans Disability Benefits are not based on income so you can receive VA disability benefits and SSDI insurance at the same time. In addition, for lower-income individuals, it is possible to receive SSI and VA pensions at the same time.
However, because VA benefits are granted on the basis of partial disability due to the % disability ratings, it is not uncommon for Veteran’s to qualify for VA benefits but not Social Security benefits.
If you are a Veteran and considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits, we’d be happy to help. Contact us today for a free consultation. If you’re seeking Veteran’s benefits, we can refer you to someone who can help with that process.