VA Disability and SSDI Requirements—Can I Get Both?
We get a few common questions from veterans and their families: when a veteran has a disability, is it possible to get both VA disability and SSDI? What are the requirements?
If you’re a veteran, or your loved one is a veteran, you’ll want to know the answer! This way, you don’t miss out on the benefits you’re owed for working and for serving our country.
Let’s talk about VA Disability and SSDI requirements.
Can Veterans Get VA and SSDI Benefits at the Same Time?
The good news is that, yes, as a veteran you can get both VA disability and SSDI benefits!
That said, it’s important to know that the VA and Social Security Administration are two different federal agencies, with different requirements for disability benefits. As a result, getting VA benefits doesn’t necessarily mean you’re guaranteed to get SSDI benefits. Why? Keep reading!
VA vs. SSDI Requirements
There are several key differences in the requirements for VA and SSDI benefits.
VA Disability Requirements
To qualify for VA disability benefits, one of the following has to have happened:
- You were injured or developed a physical or mental illness during your service
- You have a preexisting condition that got worse as the result of your service
Unlike the VA, the SSA isn’t concerned with how you developed a disability. Instead, the SSA determines whether you qualify for SSDI benefits based on your disability and your work history.
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have a “total disability.” This is another important difference to VA benefits: the SSA doesn’t give out partial disability benefits. To the SSA, you are either completely unable to work, or you’re not. Your disability has to prevent you from working for at least one year, or is permanent. (You can read more about the medical SSDI requirements here.)
In addition to the medical requirement, the SSA has work requirements for SSDI. You need to have worked in jobs covered by Social Security long enough—and recently enough—to qualify. (“Covered” jobs mean jobs that pay into Social Security. You can read more about work requirements for SSDI here.)
VA vs. SSDI Benefits
How much can you get from VA disability and SSDI? That depends on a couple of factors.
VA Disability Benefits
After determining you qualify, the VA determines how much you’re owed in benefits. The VA bases this on a percentage scale—how much the agency thinks the disability affects your health and ability to function.
As a result, you might receive a rating anywhere between 0-100%, and the VA pays accordingly. The higher your percentage rating, the higher the benefit amount. If you have multiple disabilities, even if each one isn’t totally disabling, it’s possible to get a 100% rating.
Also, if you have a rating between 30-100%, the VA also takes into account your dependents. If you have dependent children and a spouse, your amount will likely be higher. Unfortunately, the VA doesn’t include spouses or children if your percentage is 10-20%.
The VA benefits you can get each month ranges from $144 (for a 10% rating) to $3,731.90 (with a 100% rating and several dependents). You can see a table with compensation rates here.
SSDI benefits are based on your work history: the amount you can receive each month is based on your average lifetime earnings (before your disability began).
While benefits generally range between $800 and $1,800 per month, the average monthly payout is $1,277. The maximum SSDI benefit is $3,148 per month.
If you’re not sure what your benefits would be, it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced SSDI lawyer or your local Social Security office. That’s because the SSA uses a complicated formula to determine the amount owed you.
Do VA Disability Benefits Affect SSDI?
Working (or sometimes, even volunteering) can affect the amount of SSDI benefits you get. Your paycheck could offset your SSDI benefits—meaning that the SSA would reduce your SSDI benefits by the paycheck amount.
Fortunately, getting VA disability benefits doesn’t affect SSDI this way.
Does VA Disability Expedite SSDI?
Getting VA disability benefits unfortunately doesn’t guarantee you’ll get SSDI benefits. As we explained above, the VA requirements and SSDI requirements are different. You might qualify for one or the other, if not both.
However, qualifying for VA disability can, in some cases, expedite your SSDI claim. Thanks to the SSA’s Wounded Warrior program, veterans who get a 100% P&T (Permanent & Total) disability rating are given priority when processing claims. That means, if the VA rates your disability at 100% and determines that your disability is permanent, you could get your SSDI claim approved faster.
Contact Us with Questions
The SSDI system can be complex and confusing. If you or a loved one have questions about applying for SSDI as a veteran, or need help with your claim, we’re here to help.
Call us today to talk to an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer at Casper & Casper.