Whenever a military veteran becomes disabled over the course of their service, they are eligible to collect various disability benefits from both the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). Moreover, they can recover these benefits at the same time. According to statistics, a total of 950,000 veterans received SSDI benefits back in 2016.
However, it is important to keep in mind that both of these federal agencies have different rules for determining a veteran’s eligibility – and for setting payments. Moreover, just because an individual receives disability benefits through the VA does not necessarily mean that they will automatically qualify for SSDI benefits.
Qualifying for Benefits
A veteran may qualify for VA disability compensation if they developed a mental or physical illness or suffered an injury during their period of military service. They could also recover VA disability benefits if they had a pre-existing health condition that became worse due to their service in the military.
On the other hand, a veteran’s eligibility for SSDI benefits is based upon their work history rather than the way in which they became injured or ill. To recover these benefits, the veteran must have spent time in jobs or self-employment where they paid a certain amount in Social Security taxes, as reflected on their Form W-2. This is called covered employment.
Medical Eligibility for Benefits
To recover SSDI benefits, you must be incapable of partaking in substantial gainful employment. This typically means that your illness or injury prevents you from working at any job and in any capacity for a period of at least one year. Moreover, to recover SSDI benefits, a healthcare provider must establish in writing, and to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that your illness or injury prevents you from working.
In many instances, it takes several attempts to obtain SSDI benefits. If the insurance company determines that medical documentation is lacking, you will need to get a healthcare provider on board in your case and file an administrative appeal. Once you have exhausted all of your administrative appeal options, you may be able to file an appeal in federal court. A Social Security disability lawyer can assist you throughout this process and work to get you the benefits you deserve.
In contrast, the VA uses a percentage scale to rate disabilities, depending upon how much a medical condition impacts your ability to work — and your general health. Different percentage points correlate with different injuries. Moreover, if you suffered multiple injuries, the VA uses a very specific formula to combine those into one rating.
Speak with an Experienced Disability Lawyer Today
If your injury or illness prevents you from working, an experienced disability lawyer in your area can determine your eligibility for both SSDI and VA disability benefits. If you are eligible, your lawyer will do everything possible to help you maximize the benefits you recover. An Orange County social security disability attorney can also answer all of your legal questions and address any concerns you might have.