Did you know that if you’re on VA disability benefits, you’re likely eligible for Social Security disability benefits as well? Social Security benefits are available to Americans who are unable to work due to an illness. If you were injured on active duty, you might be able to receive Social Security disability on top of your VA disability, and the two programs will not affect one another.
Key Differences Between VA Disability and SSDI
Most veterans will qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. These payments are given to people who have worked throughout adulthood. Veterans have paid enough in Social Security taxes to qualify for SSDI, so long as they’ve worked within the past five years. Here are some key differences between the two programs:
- You need to be “totally disabled” to qualify for SSDI. Social Security benefits are only for people who are unable to work completely, unlike VA disability. If your disability rating is 70% or higher, you’ll almost certainly qualify.
- It does not matter when you were injured to qualify. If you suffered a catastrophic injury out of service, you could still qualify for SSDI if you were working elsewhere.
- Your doctor’s opinion goes a long way toward your SSDI approval. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will highly value what your primary care physicians think of your injuries and your ability to work.
Expedited Claims for Social Security
Some veterans have injuries that clearly warrant disability benefits, so the SSA will expedite these claims to ensure that veterans in need do not suffer through long approval processes. Your claim will be expedited if:
- You have a disability rating of 100% P&T
- You had become disabled while on active duty on or before October 1, 2002.
Just mark on your application your status as a veteran with a high disability rating or injured while on active duty within the eligible time period, and the SSA will process your claim in as little as 10 days. While this means the SSA will come to a decision faster, it will still take the standard waiting period of five months to get your first payment.
Starting Your Application
You can actually complete the entire SSDI process online. This is the easiest way to apply, as you can save your progress for later and complete the Social Security application at a time that’s convenient for you.
You will also not need to physically submit any paperwork to apply—Just be sure to list every hospital where you’ve been treated to ensure the SSA can find all of your complete medical records. You’ll also need tax information and employment history, so you should review the Disability Starter Kit on the SSA’s website to know exactly what information you’ll need to complete the application.
Most claims will be processed in 3-5 months, but veterans with 100% P&T or vets injured on active duty after October 2002 will be processed quicker. Because VA disability and SSDI do not affect one another, the additional income should help you and your family adjust to life back as a civilian.
This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org or by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org.