If you are a current or former service member collecting Social Security disability, you do not need to worry about whether the military finds out about you collecting SSI. Receiving Social Security disability — either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — does not disqualify you from serving in the military. That said, if you are eligible for SSI or SSDI, it is unlikely that you are fit to serve in the military, as both programs require total disability.
Also, no law or regulation prevents you from collecting both VA and Social Security disability if you are a veteran who suffered an injury or illness during your service. If you collect SSI, however, your VA compensation may count toward your total income and reduce your SSI benefits.
A disability lawyer can review your situation and help you make the most of your Social Security or VA benefits. Call 865-566-0800 for a free case evaluation with the Disability Advantage Group.
How Does SSI Affect My Military Service Eligibility?
Receiving SSI should not affect your military service eligibility. When judging your fitness for service, the military does not care if you receive SSI or not. If you can do the duties of your job, then your position in the military should be safe. Conversely, however, SSI may care if you serve in the military. Since you are able to carry out the duties of a military job, SSI may rule that you no longer qualify for benefits.
Both SSI and SSDI differ from VA disability in an important way. While VA disability is available to veterans with medical conditions of varying severity, the Social Security disability programs are reserved for people who are totally disabled. Social Security defines total disability as the inability to sustain meaningful, gainful employment due to a medical condition.
Because of this requirement, Social Security typically cuts off benefits to people who are gainfully employed, such as in the military.
If I Receive VA Disability, Can I Also Receive Social Security Disability, or Vice Versa?
VA and Social Security disability are two separate programs administered by different agencies. While some of their qualifying criteria may overlap, approval for one program does not guarantee approval for the other.
The VA does not require total disability, while Social Security does. If you receive VA disability at an impairment rating of less than 100%, you may be ineligible for SSDI or SSI because you are not totally disabled.
Similarly, Social Security is not concerned with the origin of your condition, while the VA requires it to be service-connected to receive benefits. If you were approved for SSDI or SSI because of a medical condition you developed outside of your military service, you cannot receive VA disability, since your ailment is not service-connected.
What Is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?
Both SSDI and SSI are disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). They have the same medical qualifying criteria. If you are denied by one program on a medical basis, you can expect to be denied by the other.
Where the two programs differ is in their non-medical criteria. SSDI, set up like an insurance program, requires you to have a minimum number of work credits to receive benefits. You receive these credits each year by working and paying Social Security taxes. SSI, a means-tested program for the needy, requires your income and assets to fall below certain thresholds. If you make too much money or have too high a net worth, you will not qualify for SSI.
Are There Income Limits for SSDI?
Although SSDI restricts your work activity, labeling you ineligible for benefits if you can perform substantially gainful activity, it does not have an income limit. Instead, the nature of your work, not how much money you make, determines whether you are eligible to receive SSDI.
If you work construction full-time and make $500 per week, you will likely be ineligible for SSDI based on this activity. But if you day trade stocks from your living room and make $5,000 per week, you may still be eligible for SSDI, as this activity does not necessarily indicate able-bodiedness.
SSI, on the other hand, has strict limits on income, as well as assets and net worth.
Call 865-566-0800 Today for a Free Case Evaluation With a Disability Lawyer
The social security disability lawyers at the Disability Advantage Group can help you with any issues you are facing when it comes to Social Security or VA disability. Our passion is connecting people with the benefits they deserve. We offer a free consultation and do not get paid until you begin receiving benefits. To speak with a member of our staff, call us at 865-566-0800.