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Applying for SSD Benefits While Receiving VA Disability Benefits

June 16, 2021 Disability

Veterans, in their incredible bravery, put their lives on the line for their country every day. To compensate them for injuries received as a result of their service, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a disability benefits program similar to the Social Security disability (SSD) program. However, these programs are not mutually exclusive, and individuals receiving VA disability benefits may also qualify for SSDI benefits, as our Baltimore SSD lawyer explains below. 

A Comparison of the Social Security Disability and VA Benefits Programs

The two programs both aim to achieve the same goal: to provide financial assistance to individuals whose disabilities prevent them from working, but there are important differences: 

  • The VA disability program is available only for those who have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training and have received a disability rating for a service-connected condition. A service-connected condition is (a) an injury or illness sustained while serving in the military, (b) a pre-service illness or injury exacerbated by service, or (c) a service-related disability that did not appear until after service. 
  • Social Security disability benefits are available to individuals with work histories, but for whom an injury or illness prevents them from working for at least 12 months or is expected to result in their death. 

The main difference between the programs is that the VA defines “disability” more broadly than the Social Security Administration (SSA). The VA considers disability on a sliding scale from 10% to 100%, with benefits payable proportionately to the claimant’s disability level. The SSA, on the other hand, defines disability in an “all or nothing” manner — the applicant is either totally disabled or not disabled. 

Can You Receive Social Security Disability Benefits and VA Benefits? 

Yes. An individual’s eligibility for VA benefits — or the fact that he or she is currently receiving them — does not affect his or her eligibility for SSD benefits. While the SSA offsets benefits for approved claimants who are also receiving benefits through other programs (e.g., workers’ compensation), it does not do so for recipients of VA benefits; VA benefit recipients are entitled to the full amount of their SSD awards. VA benefit recipients with a 100% disability rating from the VA are also entitled to expedited processing of their SSD applications. 

Are There Any Caveats? 

While receiving VA benefits will not lower the amount of benefits an individual is eligible to receive through the SSD program, having a VA disability rating does not necessarily improve the applicant’s chances of being approved for SSD benefits. The SSA evaluates applicants with VA ratings on the same basis as all other applicants. 

Contact a Baltimore SSD Lawyer for More Information 

If you are currently receiving VA disability benefits, you may also be entitled to Social Security disability benefits from the SSA. However, you will still be required to go through the standard application process on the same basis as other applicants. To get started, please contact Baltimore SSD lawyer Emmett B. Irwin by calling 443-839-0818 or using our online contact form.