Do Veterans Automatically Qualify for Social Security Disability?

veterans qualify for social security disabilityThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) help provide benefits to those with disabilities. However, these government benefit programs work differently, requiring separate applications and eligibility requirements. While you may be eligible for VA benefits, you could be ineligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and vice versa.

Our Oshkosh Social Security Disability lawyers discuss the eligibility requirements for each program and why receiving VA benefits does not automatically qualify you for SSD benefits. If you need help obtaining disability benefits, reach out to schedule a risk-free, no-obligation legal consultation.

Qualifying for Veterans Benefits

To qualify for VA benefits, you must be a disabled veteran and your disability must be related to your active duty service. However, you do not have to be completely disabled to receive these benefits.

VA benefits are awarded using a percentage-based system. You must have a disability rating of at least 10 percent to be eligible for financial compensation.  

Should your condition worsen, you have the right to ask to be re-evaluated and your disability rating could be adjusted accordingly. Some medical conditions that may be covered by VA benefits include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Chronic back pain
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Cancers caused by toxic chemicals
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Severe loss of hearing
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Each disability rating is meant to compensate veterans for the average impairment in earning capacity caused by their service-connected condition.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

To qualify for SSD benefits, you must be completely disabled and unable to earn income. Your disability can result from several medical issues. It does not have to be related to your military service, but it can.

For instance, say you have a 40 percent VA disability rating for a lung condition, but you also suffer from diabetes and severe carpal tunnel syndrome unrelated to your military service. When you combine all of these conditions, you may meet the SSA’s requirements to be deemed totally and permanently disabled.

As of 2017, the SSA no longer takes VA disability approvals into consideration when determining SSD benefits. The SSA will, however, consider all evidence that the VA considered when making its determination whether to award you SSD benefits.

Two of the main eligibility criteria for SSD benefits include:

  • Evidence of a physical or mental health condition that results in functional impairments that limit your ability to work full-time. You cannot earn more than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit set by the SSA. For 2020, the SGA limit is $2,110 a month for blind applicants and $1,260 a month for non-blind applicants.
  • The disabling condition has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.

However, it is important to note that just because you are approved for benefits from one government program does not necessarily mean that you will be awarded benefits from the other. Your claim might be denied and you might need to file an appeal. If this happens, a lawyer from our firm is here to help.

Expedited Benefits For Certain Veterans

Those who are VA-rated 100 percent permanent and totally disabled may be eligible for expedited claims processing for SSD benefits. The expedited process is generally open to veterans who became disabled while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001.

Although expedited processing does not guarantee any veteran disability benefits, it is important for veterans to identify themselves as such when applying for SSD and provide their VA rating notification letter to the SSA.

There is also no fixed timeline for approval in these cases. Processing times may be impacted due to the nature of the VA-rated disability, how responsive doctors are in supplying supportive medical evidence, or whether a medical examination is required.

Need Help Getting Disability Benefits?

At Sigman Janssen, our lawyers have helped many applicants obtain the disability benefits they need through the initial claims process and appeals process if a claim is denied.

An initial consultation with a member of our legal team is complimentary and confidential. There is no risk in calling us to get answers to your questions and no obligation to hire our firm after this meeting.

Contact our office today at (877) 888-5201.