Serving in the military can be the most rewarding and demanding experience that many Americans go through in their lives. The physical and or psychological toll placed on our soldiers often means many are left either partially or fully disabled. In fact, close to 41 percent of military service members who joined a branch of the military after September 11, 2001, have a disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to Military.com (In contrast, around 25 percent of veterans who served prior to September 11, 2001). This means there are thousands of veterans who may be eligible for disability and other benefits through the VA…but what about disability benefits through the Social Security Administration? Can a disabled veteran get benefits from the VA and Social Security at the same time?
Here is the answer – in general, a veteran is eligible to receive VA disability benefits and Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) simultaneously. Veterans should also determine whether they qualify for a VA pension, a program designed to compensate veterans who have virtually no income and are disabled.
Overview of Social Security Disability Benefits and Veterans Disability Benefits
If you are interested in pursuing disability benefits from both the VA and Social Security, it is important to understand the similarities and differences between these programs.
To qualify for VA disability benefits, you need to present evidence that you suffered a disability that was “incurred or aggravated” by your military service. For Social Security disability benefits, you do not need to show a link to your military service. Instead, you need to present evidence of a physical or mental health condition that has resulted in a functional impairment that limits your ability to work at a “substantial gainful” level, and that your disabling condition has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least 12 months.
As you can see, one of the big differences between Social Security disability benefits and VA disability benefits is that it is much less arduous for a veteran to obtain VA benefits. For example, you do not need to be deemed totally disabled to be eligible for VA benefits. In fact, many veterans receiving VA benefits do not have a “total disability” rating by the VA and can have a rating as low as 10 percent. There are much more stringent requirements that need to be met in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Veterans Get Premium Placement for Application Processing by SSA
It is important to note that you may be able to qualify for expedited processing of your disability benefits application with the Social Security Administration. This “premier processing” is available to veterans with a 100 percent Permanent and Total (P&T) disability rating from the VA. In addition, veterans who suffered a significant injury while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001, are eligible for expedited processing of their disability benefits application.
Take Action Today by Contacting an Experienced Disability Benefits Lawyer
If you (or a loved one) served in the military, firstly, thank you for your service! If you (or a loved one) suffered a disability related to your military service, the Law Offices of Sara J. Frankel & Associates is here to help. You deserve compassionate and top-notch representation to ensure you get all available benefits. Attorney Sara J. Frankel possesses unique insight and knowledge of SSDI and SSI disability law since she started her career as a lawyer at the Social Security Administration. Attorney Frankel has been proudly serving southeastern Massachusetts and northern Rhode Island communities since 1996. Put her more than 25 years of experience to work for you. Contact her office today to schedule a free, confidential case review.