Veterans’ disability benefits provide a safety net for former members of the United States Armed Forces who have service-related injuries or illnesses. Sometimes, the disability or illness may be so severe that the veteran requires additional financial assistance.
Many veterans opt to apply for Social Security Disability benefits as an extra source of supplemental income. However, based on your circumstances, you may or may not be able to qualify for both government programs simultaneously.
Read on to learn more about the interplay between veterans’ benefits and Social Security Disability.
Qualifying for VA and SSD
You can apply for veterans’ benefits before, after, or during your Social Security Disability (SSD) application. However, separate and independent agencies administer each of these programs. You will apply for veterans’ benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Social Security Disability through the Social Security Administration.
Both programs have different eligibility requirements. To be eligible for VA disability benefits, you must show that you have a partial or total disability, the disability is service-related, and that the disability affects your employability.
To qualify for SSD, you must show that you are completely disabled, your disability will likely last at least a year, and you are unable to perform any full-time work.
Matters can become complex if you have both service-related and non-service related disabilities. In this case, you may need the help of a qualified medical expert to prove that your service-related injuries specifically prevent you from working.
Calculating Payments for VA and SSD
The VA and SSD payment systems vary. Your payments for veterans’ benefits will depend on the severity of your disability.
The VA categorizes severity on a range of 10% to 100%. The greater the severity, the larger the amount in monthly payments you can expect.
On the other hand, your SSD benefits are based on the wages you earned and the percentage you contributed to the Social Security Administration while you were working. The severity of your disability or injury will not increase or decrease the monthly amount you receive in Social Security benefits.
Receiving SSD as a Veteran
Applying for VA benefits will not disqualify you from applying for or receiving SSD benefits and vice versa. However, just because the VA Department approves you for benefits does not mean you automatically qualify for SSD. This is because both programs have different eligibility requirements for disability.
Social Security may, however, look at your file for medical evidence supporting your disability. If you receive a 100% disability rating from the VA Department, Social Security may process your SSD claim faster.
Receiving military pay will not necessarily disqualify you from receiving SSD. However, the Social Security Administration may deny your claim if you engage in substantially gainful work that earns you more than $1,180 per month, as of 2018.
When you qualify for SSD, you are eligible for Medicare 24 mos. from when you become eligible for SSD payments. Fortunately, you can use the VA health care benefits and Medicare together. Your VA health care benefits and Medicare will both cover different services and different practices. Using them together gives you more flexibility in receiving the medical care that you need.
Both VA and SSD benefits can be invaluable if you are disabled and need extra financial support. Consult a skilled attorney if you are veteran and worried about your SSD eligibility to learn how you can receive the medical and financial assistance you need.
If you are considering applying for SSD, do not go at it alone. The experienced lawyers and staff at Horn and Kelley, PC, can help you receive the benefits you deserve. Get in touch with us today to discuss your case.