Getting Both Social Security and VA Veterans Disability Benefits

Injured military veterans often qualify for both veterans disability and social security benefits. However, the process behind both benefits are different, and what injury qualifies for one benefit may not necessarily qualify for the other. Below are some frequently asked questions by vets considering Social Security disability benefits.

What’s the Difference Between Veterans Disability and Social Security Benefits?

The biggest difference between veterans disability and social security benefits is that VA compensation does not require claimants to be totally disabled. In fact, many veterans receiving VA compensation have not received a total disability rating. Veterans can get a compensation rating of as little as 10%, and can get a rating of little as 0%.

In comparison, Social Security does not compensate claimants with a partial loss in employability. The program requires that claimants are totally disabled, or they will not qualify for benefits.

What Qualifies Veterans for Social Security Disability?

You can only receive Social Security disability benefits if you have worked full-time for at least five of the last ten years. So, if you wait too long to apply after you stop working full-time, then you may not be eligible to receive them.

In many situations, veterans can receive Social Security disability benefits on top of their VA paid disability compensation. However, if you receive a VA pension, then your payments from Social Security may put you over the income limits of the program, which would disqualify you from your pension.

How Do I Determine If Social Security Considers Me Disabled?

In order to receive Social Security disability benefits you must demonstrate that you cannot perform any type of significant work. In contrast, because VA disability awards benefits for partial disability, you can still work and collect VA compensation. That is not so for Social Security benefits. For Social Security, your disability must prevent you from working full-time for at least one year or longer.

Does Receiving VA Compensation Automatically Qualify Me for Social Security Benefits?

No. Unfortunately, just because you receive veterans disability, it does not mean that you’ll qualify for Social Security benefits. As stated above, the two programs are very different and require different qualifications.

Can I Receive Social Security If I Was Dishonorably Discharged?

Unlike veterans disability, a negative discharge will not bar you from receiving Social Security benefits. You will still qualify for Social Security if your disability hinders you from working.

Can I Receive Expedited Processing for Social Security?

Yes, some veterans may be entitled to an expedited processing of their Social Security application. Veterans that served after October 1, 2001 and became disabled on active duty can qualify for expedited processing. As long as you were on active duty, you still qualify whether you became disabled overseas or on U.S. soil.

In addition, veterans that receive a 100% permanent and total disability rating also qualify for expedited processing.

However, veterans that qualify for expedited processing do not automatically meet Social Security’s disability definition. In fact, veterans that receive a 100% P&T rating may be denied Social Security disability benefits, though that is very unlikely.

While the Social Security administration should automatically expedite your application if you qualify, sometimes is does not. So, make sure that you request expedited processing as a 100% P&T veteran or wounded warrior when you apply.

Should I Consult With an Attorney?

As a veteran, you do have the right of hiring an attorney to help you apply for Social Security disability, or if you need to file an appeal. Fortunately, no matter how long the case goes on, you do not have to pay your attorney until you are awarded benefits. Attorney fees are limited to only 25% of your backpay, and cannot exceed $6,000.

If you’re interested in contacting a Social Security disability attorney, then contact the legal team at Law Office of Jack G. Lezman, PLLC today.

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