Did you know that VA Disability benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the primary form of disability benefits, do not affect one another? Veterans who were wounded on active duty can often qualify for both government-run programs at the same time. If you’re on VA disability and are in need of additional assistance, here is some additional information you may want to know about Social Security disability benefits:

1. You Need to be Completely Unable to Work to Qualify for SSDI

SSDI benefits are only for people who have an injury severe enough to prevent them from earning $1,170 per month in 2017. This is radically different from VA disability—You can receive benefits for a 10% disability rating from the VA. If you’re able to work part-time with your disability, it’s unlikely that you’ll qualify for Social Security benefits on top of your VA disability.

2. Your VA Disability Approval Will Help Your SSDI Claim, but not Vice-Versa

A high disability rating from the VA will go a long way in getting your Social Security claim approved. In fact, veterans with a 100% P&T disability rating will have their claims expedited. If your disability rating is around 70% or higher, you’ll have an excellent chance of approval. The Social Security Administration (SSA) takes the VA’s disability approval as evidence supporting your claim.

On the other hand, already receiving Social Security disability benefits will not help a VA disability claim. This is because while it doesn’t matter when you were injured for Social Security benefits, the VA requires that you were hurt on active duty to qualify for VA disability.

3. Speak to Your Doctor When Applying for SSDI Benefits

Just as the SSA sees the Veteran’s Administration as a reliable source for your claim, your primary physician’s opinion will help you win your SSDI claim. The SSA gives your doctor’s opinion preference when evaluating your claim. This is not the case for the VA, so be sure to speak with your doctor to get as much medical evidence as possible, and even a letter of recommendation for SSDI benefits if possible.

4. You Have a Time Limit to Apply for SSDI

VA disability has no statute of limitations, but if you have not worked recently, you may not qualify for SSDI benefits. A good rule of thumb is if you’ve worked at least part-time for any five of the past ten years, you will qualify for SSDI benefits. Younger applicants will not need to have worked as long. For example, if a 22-year-old veteran was wounded in the line of duty, he will have only been expected to have earned about $8,000 in taxable income since age 18 to qualify.

Because time is limited, it’s important to apply for SSDI benefits as soon as you think you might qualify. Most applicants can complete the entire SSDI application online on the SSA’s website. If you’d prefer, you can also apply in person at your local SSA office. You can schedule an appointment to apply by calling the SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

Finally, veterans with a 100% P&T disability rating will not be the only ones eligible for expedited claims. If you were injured on active duty on or after October 2, 2002, your claim will be expedited as well. The average claim takes 3-5 months to be approved, but veterans who qualify for hastened review could be approved in as little as 10 days.

This article was written and researched by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at http://www.disability-benefits-help.org or by contacting them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The information and views contained in this article are from a third party and are not endorsed by The Home Front Cares. 


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