11 Jul Social Security Disability and VA Disability
There are two primary programs through which disabled veterans may receive benefits: Social Security Disability and VA Disability. Veterans can receive these benefits concurrently, however, they must first meet the requirements of each. Outlined below are the differences between these programs and their respective requirements:
- Social Security Disability operates on an all or nothing basis. To be awarded benefits, a claimant must prove that he/she is unable to work as a result of the medical condition(s). Furthermore, the disability must be expected to last at least one year.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can award benefits for partial and totally disability. A beneficiary will be rated anywhere from 10% to 100%. Those receiving VA benefits may still be able to work.
- It is important to have an established treating physician when applying for Social Security Disability. This medical professional’s opinion will be heavily weighed during the decision process.
- The VA will not give one physicians opinion any deference. It is principle that decisions be based on a claimants entire file to ensure that no particular piece of evidence is given extra weight.
- All veterans can qualify for Social Security Disability regardless of their type of military discharge (given that they meet the other requirements).
- In most cases, an individual must have a character of discharge other than dishonorable to qualify for VA benefits.
- There are several steps in the Social Security Disability application process. First, one must apply at the initial level. It is estimate that 80% of claimants are denied at this level for a variety of reasons. If the decision is appealed, the claim moves to the reconsideration stage (dependent on the state). The third step is the hearing level, which can take upwards of 18-24 months.
- The process of applying for VA benefits is shorter and more straightforward than Social Security Disability. First, the claimant must prove that he or she is a military veteran (with a non-dishonorable discharge). Secondly, the claimant must prove that his/her medical condition(s) resulted from military service.
- The Social Security Disability benefit amount is based on past earned income. Those with higher past earnings, who paid higher FICA taxes, will receive a larger benefit. The maximum amount a beneficiary can receive is $2,600, however, the average benefit is $1,300.
- The monthly benefit for VA Disability is more than double the Social Security Disability amount.