How Do Military Retirement or VA Disability Benefits Affect Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance?

by Nov 14, 2017Disability Benefits

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Do Military Retirement or VA Disability Benefits Affect Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance?

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) are two separate entities administering separate benefit programs. That is why receiving military retirement or VA disability benefits does not affect eligibility for disability benefits, and vice versa.

If you are currently receiving VA disability or military retirement benefits, you can and should apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The SSA will judge your application on its own merit. The fact you are receiving VA benefits will neither decrease nor increase your chances of approval.

Before applying for SSDI, it is a good idea to speak with a Social Security attorney with a track record of putting together winning benefit claims for his or her clients. At the Disability Advantage Group, we have experience getting SSDI benefits for veterans.

Because the waiting period between applying and hearing an answer can be months—and the approval rate for first-time applicants is low—it is important to put forth the strongest application you can. Otherwise, you may have to start the process over and wait potentially a year or longer to begin collecting benefits.

We can help you build a strong application. To schedule a free consultation with a member of our accomplished legal team, call 865-566-0800 today.

Do VA Benefits Affect SSDI Benefits?

No. The two benefits programs are completely separate from one another.

VA disability benefits are available to veterans of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. If you developed a disabling medical condition due to an event in your military service, you are eligible to receive VA disability benefits. If you spent enough years in the military to retire, you can collect retirement benefits in the form of a military pension.

SSDI benefits are for any worker, military or non-military, who becomes fully disabled and can no longer sustain meaningful, gainful employment. The injury does not have to occur on the job to qualify.

The fact that you already receive VA disability benefits or a military pension will not affect your application for SSDI in a negative way. However, because the two programs have such different qualifying criteria, it is unlikely to materially help your chances of approval, either.

We can review your military history, your medical records, and your work benefits to help you determine exactly what combination of benefits you qualify for—and how you can make the most of them.

Does the Fact That I Receive VA Disability Mean I Will Qualify for SSDI?

Sometimes, veterans are under the mistaken impression that they are a shoe-in for SSDI because they already receive disability from the VA. However, the approval criteria for SSDI are very different from VA disability. Many veterans who receive VA disability do not qualify for SSDI.

One of the biggest reasons for this is due to the fact the VA offers benefits to veterans who are not totally disabled. The VA has a disability rating scale—with a rating of 100 percent indicating total disability—but it awards compensation to veterans who are as little as 10 percent disabled.

SSDI, by contrast, is an all-or-nothing proposition. You have to demonstrate to the SSA that you are totally disabled to qualify for benefits. Though the SSA’s and VA’s definitions of total disability are not exactly the same, a recipient of VA disability with a rating of anything less than 100 percent would probably not qualify for SSDI.

Can I Apply for SSDI If I Am Still in the Service?

Yes. If you are fully disabled and cannot work, you can apply for SSDI even if you have not yet received a formal discharge from the military.

In fact, there are several reasons why it is a good idea to submit your application as soon as possible. Applicants who are veterans and active service members enter a priority queue to have their applications reviewed faster than regular applicants—though the process is still notorious for being slow.

Also, the sooner you apply for benefits, the earlier your effective date will be. Your effective date is the date at which you first become eligible for benefits. Once you receive an approval, you will receive back pay that covers the period beginning on your effective date. You want this date to be as early as possible.

What Happens If I Apply and Receive a Denial?

If you apply for SSDI and receive a denial, we can help you appeal the SSA’s decision. If that process fails, we will help you make your case in front of an administrative law judge.

For Help With Your Disability Claim, Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Attorneys.

The accomplished team at the Disability Advantage Group, is here to help you win your disability claim. Schedule your free consultation by calling 865-566-0800 today.