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Are Veterans Automatically Eligible for Social Security Disability?

veteran in office discussing somethingWhile both the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Social Security Administration (SSA) provide benefits to those with disabilities, these programs have separate eligibility criteria. You could be eligible for VA benefits and ineligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and vice versa.

Below, learn more about the eligibility criteria for both programs to find out why being eligible for VA disability does not mean you are automatically eligible for SSD benefits. If you are unsure whether you may be able to obtain SSD benefits, contact a Harrisburg Social Security Disability lawyer at Schmidt Kramer for a free legal consultation. We have helped many people with disabilities obtain benefits and have extensive knowledge of the process, including filing an appeal.

Eligibility for Veterans Benefits

Many who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces suffer injuries that affect them long after their military service is concluded. If the injury is connected to their military service, meaning their service caused their injury/disability, they may be eligible for VA disability benefits. However, if you were dishonorably discharged from the military you will not be eligible.

When you apply for benefits, your condition receives a disability rating. You must receive a rating of 10 percent or more to be eligible for benefits.

While there are many medical conditions that may qualify for benefits, here are some common examples of conditions that may be connected to military service:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Quadriplegia
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Amputations
  • Loss of hearing
  • Loss of vision
  • Severe burns
  • Respiratory damage

The VA also presumes some disabilities are service-connected, such as conditions suffered by former prisoners of war and Gulf War veterans who have undiagnosed illnesses and medically-unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses.

Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits

The main difference between the eligibility criteria for VA benefits and SSD benefits is the level of disability that is required to qualify. You could receive VA benefits with a rating as low as 10 percent. However, you need to have a much more severe disability to qualify for SSDI. While these two programs are not connected, your disability rating would likely need to be closer to 100 percent for you to also qualify for SSDI benefits.

Before 2017, the Social Security Administration would take your approval for VA benefits into account when determining your eligibility for SSD benefits. That said, the SSA will review evidence the VA considered when deciding if you should be approved for SSD benefits.

While you can still work and receive both VA benefits and SSD benefits, you cannot earn more than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit set by the SSA and still qualify for SSD benefits. In 2020, the SGA limit for blind individuals is $2,110 and $1,260 for non-blind individuals.

Generally, those who are eligible for SSDI work very little or do not work at all because they have suffered a severe injury, or their medical condition has deteriorated and caused significant physical or mental impairment. You could be much less disabled and able to work more often and still qualify for VA disability benefits.

VA Disability Can Offset Supplemental Security Income Benefits

If you apply for Supplemental Security Income benefits and are approved, the amount you receive will be offset by VA disability compensation. This is because VA disability compensation counts as earned income. For example, if you receive $500 per month from the VA, $500 will be deducted from your SSI payment.

Has Your SSD Application Been Denied or Are You Unsure if You Are Eligible?

At Schmidt Kramer, we take cases on contingency. The initial consultation is free and there is no obligation for you to hire us after the consultation. There is no risk to you in meeting with one of our licensed attorneys to discuss your medical condition and whether you may be able to obtain benefits.

Many initial applications for benefits are denied, even though the applicant may be eligible. The SSA wants to prevent frivolous applications. That is why you should not be discouraged if your application is denied.

Learn more about how we may be able to help by scheduling your free legal consultation. (717) 888-8888