Bryan Mac Murray
If you are a veteran, you may be eligible to receive VA disability and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if you are unable to work. Both programs require in-depth application processes that require you to provide extensive documentation in order to prove your disability and inability to work.
As a military veteran, after you have applied for and have been determined eligible to receive Veteran’s Administration (VA) disability benefits, you may also be eligible for SSDI benefits. Both the Social Security Administration (SSA) and VA pay monthly disability benefits to qualifying applicants, but they are separate organizations with their own separate criteria that must be met in order for an individual to qualify for benefits.
You need to be aware of the differences in these programs and how to apply for each. If you don’t apply for disability in a timely fashion, you may end up becoming ineligible to receive monthly benefits. Watch the timeframes, be aware of your condition and the situation, and be prepared to act accordingly.
Approval for VA Benefits Can Improve Your Odds of Getting SSDI
If you have been approved to receive VA benefits because you have a medical condition that has rendered you disabled, you do have stronger approval chances for your SSDI claim through the SSA. The SSA will take your VA disability rating into consideration as your claim is evaluated.
But, if you are first awarded SSDI benefits it does not improve your odds of VA approval because the VA only compensates for disabilities that are related to your military service. You can become disabled by illness or injury any time during your life, which makes you eligible for SSDI. You must be on active military duty when you become disabled to receive VA benefits.
Fast Tracking Your SSDI Application
If you are approved for VA benefits because you served in the military after October 1, 2001 and became disabled and have a permanent, 100% total VA disability rating, the SSA will fast-track your SSDI application, which means your claim will be paid much more quickly than if it went through the regular determination and approval process, which can take months.
Other Program Differences
The VA will grant benefits for partial disabilities as long as they are related to the military service. The VA has a ratings system that staff uses to determine the severity of your disability. In order to receive SSDI, you have to be completely and permanently disabled.
The SSA will give greater value to opinions from your treating physician, who is more familiar with your situation. On the other hand, the VA views this information as important but it does not carry as much weight because the VA makes decisions based on your entire file and not just the medical aspect of it.
You Have VA Benefits and You Want to Apply for SSDI
As a veteran, you are only eligible for SSDI if you worked full-time for five of the last 10 years. Exceptions are made for younger veterans injured in the line of duty. If you are approved for SSDI benefits, your monthly benefit is calculated by considering your military and civilian incomes both before you became disabled. Your years of military service are also taken into consideration.
Because you have had to work enough to have paid in sufficient taxes to the SSA and earn adequate credits in order to qualify for SSDI, you need to have recently worked. As an example, if you were injured while you were deployed on active duty and didn’t work at all during the next five years you wouldn’t qualify for SSDI. It is imperative to apply for SSDI benefits as quickly as possible after you have experienced an injury or serious illness.
Time is of the Essence
Time is important for your SSDI claim because if you wait too long, you may not be eligible for benefits. Receiving SSDI and VA benefits both can make a significant impact on your family’s monthly income. Both processes are detailed and complicated, requiring detailed and accurate documentation and extensive medical records.
If you are interested in filing a SSDI claim, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov for information.
We are very fortunate to welcome Bryan Mac Murray as a regular contributor.
VLM Stone 8/22/2016