As a disabled veteran, you’re entitled to Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits on a federal and, perhaps, state level. However, you may find that making ends meet on your VA benefits alone is a challenge.
In addition to your VA benefits, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits as well, creating a more comfortable financial situation.
But what is the relationship between VA and SSDI benefits? Keep reading to learn three things about SSDI benefits.
- Understand the Different Disability Definitions
SSDI and VA benefits have different definitions of disability, impacting your eligibility for benefits.
VA Benefits Definition of Disability
To qualify for VA benefits, the veteran must show that they have a disability that was “incurred or aggravated during active military service.” In other words, the disability must be connected to the veteran’s military service.
Monthly benefit amounts are paid on a graduated scale, based on the veteran’s degree of disability. This scale ranges from 10 to 100 percent, broken down into 10 percent increments.
Because of this, monthly VA benefit amounts vary on the severity of the disability. Veterans with certain severe disabilities may be eligible for additional VA benefits, called special monthly compensation (SMC).
Finally, service members who received a dishonorable discharge are not entitled to VA benefits.
SSDI Benefits Definition of Disability
The Social Security Administration uses a different definition for SSDI payments. Unlike VA benefits, the disability does not have to be connected to the veteran’s military service or discharge status.
Additionally, SSDI benefits are not paid on a graduated scale.
To receive SSDI benefits, the veteran must show that:
- They cannot work (or cannot engage in gainful activity) because of their medical condition, and
- Their health condition has lasted (or is expected to last) for at least one year or to result in death.
Will My VA Benefits Impact the Amount of My SSDI Benefits?
Any additional VA income (including disability benefits) qualifies as “unearned income.” However, unlike other federal benefits, VA disability benefits do not impact how much you receive from SSDI.
In other words, your SSDI and VA benefits are added together, with no reduction in the amount of your benefits.
Will My SSDI Benefits Be Processed More Quickly Because I Receive VA Benefits?
Under certain circumstances, veterans may receive faster SSDI benefit processing if they’re currently receiving VA disability compensation.
For example, if you have a 100 percent permanent and total disability rating, then the Social Security Administration will expedite any SSDI applications for those veterans. When applying for SSDI, veterans should identify themselves as “Veteran rated 100% P&T” (and include the VA rating notification letter) to receive faster processing.
Additionally, veterans that received a disabling physical or mental injury while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001, are eligible for expedited SSDI processing under the Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors program.
Why Retain Skelton & Stevens Legal Group?
At Skelton & Stevens Legal Group, we understand that you selflessly served your country. Now, let us provide you with the personal attention you deserve as you manage your disability benefits – through VA and/or SSDI benefits.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our social security disability attorneys in Arkansas, to learn more about what we can do to help you.