I Am Presently Receiving VA Disability Benefits from the Veterans Administration. Am I Able to Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

We are many times contacted by disabled veterans who have become disabled from working and who are in need of Social Security disability benefits. They remain unclear whether they might quality for benefits under the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Under the SSDI program, whether one has been in the military or whether one has worked in the private sector, it will be necessary to meet the standard earnings requirements for the program. That is to say, one still needs to pay into the Social Security through their payroll taxes such that they have acquired sufficient quarters of coverage. Ordinarily, one working for the military would be paying into the SSDI program as well, as military personnel do have Social Security taxes deducted from their wages.  That being said, the military veteran will still need to show that they remain insured at the time they become disabled (that is to say, that they have acquired sufficient quarters of coverage through their Social Security taxed earnings leading up to the date they became disabled).  The answer, therefore, is simply that a Veteran is capable of receiving both a service connected disability benefit through the Veterans Administration and Social Security disability benefits: receiving a service connected disability benefit will not adversely impact one’s ability to collect under the SSDI program.

Assuming, however, one did not earn sufficient quarters of coverage to become insured or remain insured under the SSDI program, then the question will become whether there is potential entitlement under the SSI program (that is to say, the welfare program). The question then turns to what income and assets are available in the Veteran's household, much the same as with any other SSI claim.  And so, an amount received by a disabled Veteran as VA disability benefits (service connected)  may turn out to be too much income to qualify for a welfare SSI check.  Similarly, the amount typically received by a Veteran by way of a VA pension will be considered unearned income (and as such would reduce the amount one is capable of receiving under the SSI program).

When considering an application for Social Security disability insurance benefits as as disabled Veteran, it is important to understand that for claims filed before March 27, 2017, the Social Security Administration regulations did allow for consideration of a Veteran’s Administration rating decision finding a Veteran disabled. Thus, if a Veteran had been found fully unemployable based on their disabling condition(s), this decision would be considered. The rule has since been changed for claims brought as of March 27, 2017 such that the Social Security Administration may not provide any consideration of a Veterans Administration determination of unemployability. However, this is not to suggest that the medical records themselves, and the extent to which they objectively identify severe impairments that significantly impact an individual's ability to function cannot be considered.  Likewise, the findings contained in the Veterans Administration rating examinations can many times prove quite helpful in establishing a claim for Social Security disability benefits.  

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