I’m a Disabled Veteran, can I also get Social Security Disability?

Veterans often qualify for BOTH types of benefits.

Many times veterans do not realize that they may qualify for Social Security Disability along with their VA Disability.

The process of obtaining Social Security Disability is VERY different than the process you went through to get VA benefits.

Here are some differences that veterans who have navigated the VA should understand about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):

Difference No. 1: The requirements are different. While both sets of benefits are based on your medical conditions…

  • The VA compensates veterans for service-connected disabilities. To show service connection an injury or disease must be “coincident with service in the Armed Forces;” whereas,
  • Social Security does NOT require the conditions to be service-connected, or even work-related.

Also…

  • The VA uses a percentage-based system to determine a veteran’s disability; whereas,
  • Social Security uses a “go / no go” standard, meaning Social Security either decides you CAN work or you CANNOT work. There are no options in between.

Difference No. 2: Social Security only cares about whether a veteran can perform substantial gainful activity (any type of work).

  • A veteran’s VA rating is generally irrelevant to Social Security.
  • This means a 100% P&T veteran who CAN work will be denied but a 60% (or lower) veteran who CANNOT work may be approved.

Difference No. 3: Social Security does have its own version of 38 C.F.R. Book C Subpart B; however…

  • Because Social Security only decides disability on a “can work/can’t work” basis, the list of conditions that qualifies for an automatic presumption of “disabled” is smaller than the VA’s list of ailments.
  • Also, Social Security does not rate based on the individual body systems but on a Claimant’s entire medical condition as it relates to their ability to work.

That does not mean your VA rating cannot be used as evidence to help your SSDI claim, because it can. Generally, both agencies should consider the other’s decision when making their own determination. However, neither agency’s decision is binding on the other.

When your application for SSDI benefits is denied because SSA says you are still “able to work,” this does not necessarily mean that you don’t qualify. Most applications are flat-out denied, initially. You must appeal, usually several times, in order to get your benefits. (This is when it helps to have a lawyer.)

Click here for more information on programs that expedite the processing of veterans’ claims.

The bottom line: if your medical issues are preventing you from working, you may qualify for Social Security Disability, along with your VA benefits. Do not let the higher standards of proof discourage you from applying for benefits. Please seek an experienced disability attorney in your area for help.


If you are a disabled veteran and need help with your Social Security Disability appeal and hearing, contact Deborah at The Hardin Law Firm, PLC, for help. 

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DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this website is intended to convey general information. It should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. It is not an offer to represent you, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Originally Published: December 13, 2016

 Last updated: December 14, 2016 at 8:52 am