Military veterans who served their country deserve respect for their sacrifices. Many find themselves disabled as a result of their deployments and face long-term, if not a lifetime, challenges. Thankfully, they have more than one option to secure the disability benefits they deserve.
These men and women who have made significant sacrifices are eligible for disability compensation from not only the Social Security Administration (SSA) but also the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The complexity of dual disability processes
Different processes and rules exist for both agencies when it comes to determining eligibility for benefits. Additionally, Veterans’ Administration disability recipients may not qualify for SSDI unless they suffered from a 100 percent permanent and total disability rating from the VA. In those scenarios, the Social Security Administration can put applications on a faster track.
Qualifying for VA compensation requires injury or the diagnoses of physical or mental illnesses or the worsening of a preexisting condition during their time in service. Conversely, the SSA does not look at how an illness or injury occurred. SSDI looks at a set period of time where applicants paid their Social Security taxes.
Additional differences include:
- SSDI bases eligibility on the severity of the condition and how it affects doing paid work for at least a year or could result in death. VA benefits work on a percentage scale that determines the effects of condition on health and ability to function.
- SSDI monthly benefits are determined on lifetime average earnings, while VA disability is set by the agency’s rating assigned to the condition.
Unlike workers’ compensation, no offset exists for SSDI and VA benefits. In addition, medical coverage is provided by both government entities.
Any process involving a government bureaucracy is both time-consuming with significant wait times. The specific steps to take are complex for one form of disability, let alone two. Patience, while challenging, is paramount.