Veterans Disability vs Social Security Disability

VA SSA Disability
By Kimberly BishopSeptember 18, 2017

Veterans Disability vs Social Security Disability

Clients are frequently confused about the difference between Veterans Disability Compensation and Social Security Disability benefits. Both programs provide monthly income payments but have few other things in common.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for Veterans Disability you must be a veteran with a current disability that was aggravated by or occurred during your service.  For Social Security Disability, you must be "disability insured",  and have severe impairments that affect your ability to work.

Can I work and apply?

Current employment does not matter for VA Disability Compensation (unless you are seeking higher levels of compensation, i.e. unemployability). For Social Security Disability, you must be making less than substantial gainful activity ($1,470 a month in 2023).

How does SSA and the VA define disability?

SSA defines disability "as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." The Veterans Administration's standard for determining whether your condition is related to service is "at least as likely as not", in other words you have a 50/50 shot.

Disability Rating

The VA has a rating scale for disability from 0-100% in 10% increments. So even at 10% disability you can receive some money from the VA. The SSA has a all or nothing approach. You must be found totally disabled to receive any Social Security Disability benefits.

How much money will I receive?

SSA Disability is based on the earnings from the work that you have done in your life (FICA) and is essentially what you would receive if you waited to full retirement age to retire. VA Disability is based on your % of disability. The Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Tables tell you how much you will receive.

Can I receive both?

Yes, actually, you can if you qualify. Social Security Disability and Veterans Disability Compensation are not based on finances.

If I am approved for one, will I automatically be approved for the other?

No, unfortunately. I frequently have to tell clients that getting a rating from the Veterans Administration does not mean that you will be approved for Social Security Disability and vice versa. However, the SSA does have an initiative to help Veterans with 100% P&T ratings to get their cases heard sooner.

The Bishop Law Firm represents Social Security Disability and Veterans Service Connected Disability clients in Raleigh, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us today for a free case evaluation, (919) 615-3095.

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