Can I Receive Both Social Security and VA Veterans Disability Benefits
It's possible for veterans to file Social Security and veterans disability claims at the same time. Alternatively, some veterans receive veterans disability benefits before applying for Social Security disability. Many veterans who are already receiving VA disability may also qualify for social security disability benefits.
Being approve for VA disability benefits, also known as service-connected disability compensation, is not based on income, so you can receive VA disability compensation and Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) at the same time. There is also a VA pension, which similar to Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both VA pension and SSI is a needs based program. Just like SSI, VA pension is paid to veterans who have very limited income and resources and are disabled based on non-service disabilities. It is also possible to receive SSI and VA pension at the same time.
Differences Between Social Security and Veterans Disability
One big difference between Social Security disability and veterans disability is that you don’t need to be totally disabled in order to receive VA benefits. But social security disability also has different standards and criteria. With social security disability, an individual needs to prove a total inability to maintain a job in the national economy. On the other end, most veterans who receive VA compensation do not receive a total disability rating. Veterans can receive a rating as low as 10%. With social security disability, you are either totally disabled or not disabled under Social Security's definition of disability. There is no in between.
Does Receiving Benefits in one Program Help Getting Benefits in the Other Program?
Maybe. Many Individuals who file for social security assume they should be automatically approved because they are receiving VA benefits. But that it not true. Even veterans with a 100% VA disability rating do not automatically get approved for social security disability benefits. The individual will still need to prove a total inability to perform all kinds of work in the national economy.
VA approval does not necessarily help you get Social Security disability. In the past, if you were the had a high VA rating (70% or higher), your chances for approval on your Social Security disability claim were quite high. In past decisions, federal circuit courts found that VA disability ratings were entitled to “great weight.”
However, in 2017, Social Security published new regulations saying that Social Security will no longer take VA approvals for disability compensation into account when deciding whether to grant disability benefits
The good thing, is that Social Security will consider all evidence that the VA took into account in making its disability determination. So your VA records do carry great weight when SSA makes their determination. The VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) share medical records electronically with Social Security, which will use the evidence in evaluating its applicant. Social Security may also use VA or DOD evidence to expedite processing of claims for wounded warriors and veterans with a high disability rating. Most veterans filing for social security disability tend to be processed through the SSA system a lot quicker than non-veterans.