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What Are the Differences Between Social Security Disability and Veterans Disability Benefits?

Certain disabled veterans are able to seek relief from both the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In fact, the SSA reported that approximately 621,000 veterans received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in 2016. However, each organization provides different benefits, and each has its own, separate requirements for benefits eligibility. It is possible to qualify for one, both or neither type of compensation.

Understanding the difference between SSDI and VA disability benefits can help you to determine the entitlements you have earned through your military service and through other work you have performed outside of the military.

  • VA disability — Military veterans who have a current physical or mental disability that was either caused or made worse by their service can seek VA disability compensation. A disability must be confirmed in the form of a disability rating provided by the VA. The rating can range from 0 to 100 percent, with 100 percent indicating a permanent and total (P&T) disability. Anything less than 100 indicates a partial disability.
  • SSDI — SSDI is a no-fault insurance system, available to disabled people who have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits by paying Social Security taxes through their employer. Those who are eligible must have a medical condition that prevents them from performing substantial work and meets the SSA’s definition of disability, which generally requires recipients to be unable to work for a year or more.

A person may qualify for VA disability but still be able to work, making them ineligible for SSDI. For example, a veteran with an amputated limb may be capable of performing many of the same work functions as people without the same disability. However, if chronic pain or severe PTSD is involved, a veteran may be temporarily or permanently unable to continue to work.

If the VA determines that you have a permanent and total disability, you are entitled to expedited processing for your SSDI application. However, VA compensation does not affect Social Security benefits, and even having a 100% P&T rating does not guarantee that your SSDI application will be approved.

At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, we take pride in helping military veterans and their families to receive the compensation they deserve. Our attorneys can help you determine your eligibility for VA disability benefits and also provide guidance when you file an application or appeal. Call us at 866-866-VETS or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation. We serve veterans across the country.

  • Thank to Mr. Spencer I was able to get my VA disability claim re-reviewed and given another chance to receive disability. By far he is one of the most professional lawyers I have ever dealt with. So Veterans if you are looking for help with your VA disability claim I would suggest that you hire Macari, Russotto, Spencer, & Balaban. Thanks again for everything.

    — Alfred Daye

  • As a disabled veteran trying to navigate the complexities of the Veterans Administrations regulations, I turned to the law firm of Marcari, Russotto, Spencer and Balaban. They helped me understand what I needed to do and prepared and presented to the VA an excellent presentation of my case. I recommend them for your legal needs.

    — Harry Johnson

  • I was very satisfied with the excellent and professional manner the law firm handled my claim. I highly recommend any veteran who needs help with his or her claim to use Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban P.C. Special thanks to Mr Spencer for being very professional and courteous during the appeal process. Again Thanks to the entire firm for a job well done!

    — Luther Henderson

  • My husband & I highly recommend this law form to any veteran trying to navigate the endless red tape of the VA. We turned to Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban to handle my husband's appeal and could not have been happier. We enjoyed open and consistent communication regarding our case. Any questions we had were answered immediately.

    — Michele DeZayas

  • Amanda Medina-Morales was our point of contact and she kept us up to date on the progress of our case. It was a pleasure and relief knowing that someone truly competent and professional was handling this and fighting for us.

    — Michele DeZayas

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