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Whether a person can collect both VA disability benefits and Social Security disability is a common question we hear from United States veterans and their families. Understanding the relationship between these two benefit programs is crucial for ensuring you receive the support and the income you’ve earned and deserve.

Many veterans rely on VA disability benefits and Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) for financial support. Figuring out how to qualify for both of these kinds of payments can be challenging, but knowing how they interact can help you make informed decisions. This blog post will explore how VA disability and Social Security benefits work, their eligibility criteria, and how you can receive both simultaneously.

Understanding VA Disability Benefits

VA disability benefits are tax-free payments the Department of Veterans Affairs provides to veterans with disabilities that resulted from diseases or injuries incurred or aggravated during active military service. You may be eligible for benefits for physical or mental health conditions. These benefits aim to compensate for the loss of earning capacity due to service-connected disabilities.

Eligibility Criteria for VA Disability Benefits

To qualify for VA disability benefits, veterans must meet both of these criteria:

  • You must have a current injury or illness of the mind or body.
  • You must have served on inactive duty training, active duty for training, or active duty.

Additionally, one of the following must be true:

  • You were injured or got sick while serving in the military, and your illness can be linked to your service.
  • You had an injury or illness prior to your military service and serving aggravated or exacerbated it.
  • You have a disability related to your active duty service that didn’t present until after your service ended.

If your discharge was dishonorable, other than honorable, or for bad conduct, you may not be eligible for VA disability benefits.

Veterans who meet these criteria can apply for VA disability benefits to receive the financial support they deserve.

Additionally, the VA “presumes” some conditions are related to your service. If you have one of these conditions, you need not prove that it was caused by your service. Your attorney can help you determine if you have one of these conditions.

How VA Disability Pay is Determined

The amount of VA disability compensation a veteran receives is determined by the VA’s rating schedule, which assigns a percentage rating from 0% to 100% based on the severity of the disability. Higher percentages indicate more severe disabilities and result in higher compensation payments. Additionally, veterans with dependents may receive higher payments.

For example, a veteran with a disability rating of 10% will get $171.23 per month (these are December 2023 rates). Veterans with a 10% to 20% disability rating will not get an increased benefit due to the number of dependents. For another example, if a veteran has a 40% disability rating and no dependents, the monthly payment would be $755.28. With a spouse, that same veteran would receive $838.28. For each child under the age of 18, an additional $41.00 per month would be added.

Understanding Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is a federal program managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It provides monthly payments to people who have paid into the Social Security system while they were working and who are currently unable to work due to a severe, long-term disability.

Eligibility Criteria for SSDI

To qualify for SSDI, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be blind or have a disability
  • You must have worked for at least five of the prior ten years, in most cases.

Individuals meeting these criteria can apply for SSDI benefits to receive essential financial support.

How SSDI Benefits Are Calculated

SSDI benefits are calculated based on the applicant’s average lifetime earnings before the disability began. The SSA uses a formula to determine the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which considers the highest-earning years. The more work credits and higher earnings an individual has, the higher the SSDI benefit. Your lawyer can help you determine what the payment amount would be in your specific situation.

Can You Receive Both VA Disability and Social Security Benefits Simultaneously?

Veterans can receive VA disability benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) simultaneously. These two programs are independent, meaning eligibility for one does not automatically disqualify you from the other. Each program has its criteria, and meeting both requirements allows you to benefit from both sources.

While receiving VA disability benefits does not impact SSDI, it can influence Social Security retirement benefits. If you receive SSDI and transition to retirement benefits at full retirement age, your total income may change, but your VA benefits will remain unaffected.

Does VA Disability Count as Income for Social Security?

The Social Security Administration does not consider VA disability benefits earned income. This means that receiving VA disability benefits does not impact your eligibility for SSDI or the amount of SSDI payments you receive. The SSA focuses on work credits and medical evidence of disability rather than other income sources like VA benefits.

Obtaining Benefits from Both Programs

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To secure benefits from both VA disability and SSDI, consider the following strategies:

  • Comprehensive Medical Documentation: Ensure you have detailed and comprehensive medical records to support your VA and SSDI claims. This includes all relevant medical evaluations, diagnoses, and treatment records.
  • Apply Concurrently: Apply for both VA disability and SSDI benefits as soon as you become eligible. This can help ensure that you receive all possible benefits without delay.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with experienced attorneys or veterans’ advocates who can help you navigate the complexities of both systems and advise you on optimizing your claims.

Get Help from a Skilled Indiana Veteran’s Benefits Lawyer

Understanding the relationship between VA disability and Social Security benefits is essential for veterans and their families. While it is possible to receive both types of benefits simultaneously, some factors can affect eligibility.

To handle the complexities of these benefit programs and ensure that you receive the support you deserve, consider seeking the advice of a qualified attorney, such as those at Hankey Marks & Crider. Our experienced team is dedicated to helping veterans and their families secure the benefits they have earned through their service to our country. Contact us online or call us at (317) 634-8565 for a consultation today.