Can You Get Social Security Disability and VA Disability Benefits at the Same Time?

Post by: Eric Jones | Posted Date: October 21st, 2014 | Categories: Social Security Disability

The short answer is yes, you can get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and VA disability at the same time.  Each program has specific guidelines and not everyone qualifies for both, so it is important to do your research when submitting your claim.  The order in which you apply for your disability insurance is important so you want to make sure to review the requirements with a lawyer before you apply for either SSDI or VA disability. 

What are the differences between SSDI and VA disability?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available through the Social Security Administration (SSA) and requires that you are unable to do any type of significant work within the next 12 months.  It is important to be organized when you file for Social Security Disability Insurance that you have all of your documents prepared, keeping a copy of your claim for your own records.  When your file is reviewed to see if you are eligible for SSDI, the case agent will only review if you are able to work in the next 12 months, or unable to work.  There is no sliding scale and you are either approved or denied.  If your claim is denied, there is an appeals process, where you can defend your claim.  The initial review process takes 3-4 months so it is important to start this process as soon as you can.  With a Social Security Disability lawyer’s help, you will be able to get all necessary paperwork submitted for review. 

Unlike the SSDI, VA disability is based on the specific disabilities that prevent you from seeking employment.  To receive VA benefits, you must be able to show service-connected disability, meaning that the reason you cannot seek full-time employment must center on a service injury or disability.  To this end, the VA has a different method of evaluating disability applicants.  The VA evaluates the percentage of disability, rather than evaluating whether or not you are able to work.  If you are still able to work but not able to work a full shift, or you are unable to lift items on the job, this may be considered as partial disability.  This is why it is important to speak to an attorney when filing for either form of disability.  The right attorney will be able to guide you and help you apply for all the programs for which you qualify. 

What happens if I apply for both?

If you are eligible for both you should apply for both.  Speak with an attorney to determine if you are eligible for both types of disability benefits.  Remember, they both have different criteria, and it is important to make sure that you prepare differently for each of the different claims.  If you are awarded VA disability because of a service-connected disability and your claim for SSDI is denied, working with an attorney on your appeal will help your chances of winning the appeal for SSDI. 

Which one should I apply for first?

Every situation is different, but generally if you are eligible for VA disability, you should apply for that first.  Once you are approved for VA disability, it can help you to receive SSDI.  If you are evaluated by the VA system to have 70% or higher disability in the VA then your chances of a successful SSDI claim are high.  The claim is more likely to be approved because another federal agency has already found that you are either incapable of work or full-time work would be difficult.  The reverse is not true.  If you are already receiving SSDI and apply for VA disability, the current SSDI is not taken into account. 

Additionally, if you have applied for and successfully received your VA disability, then when you complete your SSDI claim, be sure to attach a form stating your veteran status to get your claim expedited.  This will help to shorten the 3-4 month review process.  Schedule an appointment to review your specific situation with your attorney, and they can assist you in locating the form and making sure it is completed with the amount of detail needed for the claim to be processed. 

In conclusion, if you are eligible as a veteran to receive VA disability, it is in your best interest to also apply for SSDI. Whether you are thinking about applying for one, both, or you have already applied and want to be sure of your next step, contacting an attorney is in your best interest.  Each program has specific criteria that a Social Security Disability attorney will be able to describe in more detail.  Contact the Jones Law Group where our Ohio disability attorneys provide comprehensive representation at all stages of the Social Security disability claims process. Call or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with our team.

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