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Can a Veteran Receive Both VA and Social Security Benefits?

It is possible for a veteran to receive both VA disability and SSDI benefits at the same time. Receipt of VA disability benefits may impact your eligibility for SSI benefits.

How Do VA Benefits Affect Social Security?

There are two different types of Social Security disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSDI only counts earned income; therefore, VA disability benefits have no effect on entitlement to SSDI.

However, SSI is need-based; any contribution from VA disability benefits will count towards income for the month. The income limit for SSI for 2018 is $750 per month. If you receive more than $750 in VA disability each month, you will not qualify for SSI.

In addition, VA disability will also lower your SSI payment. Because the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers VA disability as income, it will subtract anything you receive from your potential benefit. This is called an offset.

For example, if you have a 20 percent disability rating and receive $269.30 a month from the VA, the SSA will deduct that from your potential monthly benefit. You would then only be eligible to receive $480.70 in SSI benefits.

If I Qualify for VA Disability, Will I Automatically Qualify for Social Security Disability?

No. You must qualify for each separately. Winning approval for one type of benefits does little to nothing to boost your chances of getting another.

If the VA grants you disability, it does not mean that an approval for Social Security Disability will follow, or vice versa. Remember, the VA system awards benefits for varying degrees of disability, while the SSA system makes a determination of disabled or not disabled.

If the SSA approves you for SSDI or SSI, you still must prove to the VA that your condition is service-connected, which is not an easy thing to do. Without sufficient evidence, the VA can call into question whether your medical condition arose as a result of an event in your military service or is otherwise related to your military service.

Note: If you have a Permanent and Total disability rating from the VA, you can receive expedited processing for an SSI or SSDI claim.

What Is the Difference Between VA Disability and Social Security Disability?

The biggest difference between VA and Social Security disability is that the VA allows for gradations of disability, while Social Security is an all-or-nothing disability finding. The VA has a sliding scale of benefit awards from 0 percent to 100 percent disabled.

By contrast, in the eyes of the SSA, you are either fully disabled or not disabled at all. If you receive approval for Social Security Disability and the SSA finds that you are engaging in substantially gainful employment (or making more than $750 a month for SSI), the SSA will rescind your benefit award.

Income and Work Requirements

There are also different requirements for each. For VA disability benefits, you must demonstrate:

  • A current diagnosis of a qualifying condition; and
  • An in-service event, injury, or illness; and
  • A nexus between that diagnosis and the in-service event.

To receive SSDI, you must show:

  • You have a medical condition that the SSA finds potentially disabling; and
  • An inability to engage in substantially gainful employment; and
  • You have a sufficient work history and have paid a minimum amount into Social Security via your payroll taxes.

To receive SSI, you must show:

  • You are disabled, blind, a child under 18, or an adult over 65, and
  • You have limited income and assets.

Questions? Contact the Legal Team at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD for a Free Consultation.

We want to help you get the highest amount of disability benefits possible. Discuss your case with us today to see if we can help you get the benefits you deserve. Call for your free consultation: 401-331-6300.

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