If you were injured while on active duty, you are likely already on VA disability benefits. What you may not know is that you could also qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). VA disability and SSDI are both benefits offered by the government for people with disabilities, but there are a few differences[i] between the two that you should know before applying.

Work Requirements for VA Disability and SSDI Approval

As most vets already know, your injury must be sustained while on active duty to qualify for VA disability. This is not true for SSDI benefits—you could qualify for SSDI for an illness that happened at any time. You will however be required to have paid enough Social Security taxes[ii] throughout adulthood to qualify for SSDI. The amount of taxable income earned to qualify will vary depending on your age, but the vast majority of veterans will qualify if they apply for SSDI immediately after finishing their service.

Partial vs. Full Disability

One of the biggest differences between VA Disability and SSDI benefits is the severity of your disability needed to qualify.  Veterans can receive VA disability with a 10% disability rating. This is not the case for SSDI applicants—you will need to prove that you’re “fully disabled” to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration. Most veterans with a disability rating of 70% or above will qualify. In fact, if your disability rating is 100% P&T, the SSA will expedite your claim for quick processing. Your claim will also be expedited[iii] if you served in the military on or after October 1, 2001.

Programs Affecting One Another?

SSDI payments and VA disability benefits will not affect each other, meaning you can receive full monthly payments from both programs. SSDI benefits are also available to eligible spouses or children. The Social Security Administration does offer another type of benefits known as Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, which would be affected by VA disability. People who receive SSI have a low income and limited resources, and are usually awarded to veterans who receive VA Pension, not VA disability benefits.

Qualifying for VA Disability Helps Your SSDI Claim

The Social Security Administration will take a VA disability approval into consideration when evaluating your SSDI claim. As mentioned previously, high VA disability approval ratings usually mean you’ll be approved for SSDI benefits. The same unfortunately cannot be said for SSDI approval and a VA disability claim—because you must have been disabled while on active duty to get VA disability, the VA will usually not take an SSDI approval into consideration when evaluating your claim.

Getting Your SSDI Application Started

You can actually complete the entire SSDI application online, although if you prefer to speak with a Social Security representative, you can always schedule an appointment at your closest SSA office[iv] by calling 1-800-772-1213 toll-free. Once you’re approved for SSDI benefits, your family will have additional income to spend on daily needs and adjusting to civilian life.

This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at http://www.disability-benefits-help.org  or by contacting them at help@ssd-help.org.


[i] http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/blog/difference-between-va-disability-and-social-security-disability

[ii] http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/work-credits

[iii] https://www.ssa.gov/people/veterans/ww.html

[iv] https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp