Social Security Disability benefits are meant for those who have been disabled through injury or illness. So long as you have paid enough into your Social Security taxes through working then you could be eligible for SSD benefits.
VA disability compensation is reserved for those who were injured or suffered some kind of physical or mental illness while serving in the military. It could be given to those who had a preexisting condition that got worse due to the time they spent in the military.
Since the focus for each of these is different, many people wonder if they can receive both or if they will be penalized for doing so. Let’s find the answer to that.
Does VA Benefits Prevent Me From Getting SSD Benefits?
No, VA benefits do not prevent you from getting SSD benefits. In fact, they may even help to speed up the process. But first, let’s discuss the idea of offsetting.
Some forms of disability benefits require an offset. This is the phrase the Social Security Administration uses. What it means is that your SSD benefits need to be reduced to offset the benefits you are receiving from elsewhere. Say you were disabled due to a work injury and so you were already receiving workers’ compensation. The SSA would see this and then offset your benefits based on the amount you were receiving from workers’ comp.
Thankfully, VA disability benefits do not trigger an offset. This means that you can receive VA benefits and SSD benefits at the same time and each of the programs will pay the full amount.
Another additional benefit is that speeding up of the process we referenced. If you have a 100% P&T rating from the VA then the SSA will process your SSD claim faster. Those who are not 100% may still be able to speed up the process through the Wounded Warrior program.
How Do SSD and VA Benefits Compare?
While an individual may be eligible for both, it might not be in their best interest to seek both immediately. Each individual’s situation is different and unique, so it is important to work with an attorney that can help you determine the best course of action. One thing you can do is consider how SSD and VA benefits compare, to see if there is anything you require from one that you aren’t receiving.
Eligibility is an important factor to consider. The VA bases its system on what percentage a person is disabled. They weigh different injuries. For example, let’s say that you lost a finger in battle. The percentage of disability this counts as will be determined not just by the loss of the finger but by considering what finger was lost. In addition, you may receive multiple injuries and each has its own percentage. So you could actually become 100% disabled without having a single injury that totally disables you. Also note that the VA’s percentage doesn’t assume the injury is necessarily permanent, so recovery is an option.
SSD benefits are given only when a condition is severe enough to prevent an individual from working for at least a year; they are also given out when the condition is likely to result in death. So with the SSD, you are either disabled or you are not. This means it could be possible to get 100% disability with the VA and yet still not be eligible for SSD benefits.
VA benefits may be lower than the average SSD payment when injury percentage is low. But 100% rating can receive roughly $3325 a month in benefits.
Should I Approach an Attorney?
An attorney can help you sort through the complexities of these systems. They aren’t designed to be easy and things get even more complicated when you are working with multiple systems at the same time. An attorney can take care of the complicated work so you can spend more time resting, recovering, and enjoying the time you have left.