What are the Differences Between VA Disability and SSDI?

If you are already receiving disability benefits through the Veterans Administration (VA) you may also be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI is administered by the SSA to provide monthly benefits for disabled workers. To receive SSDI, you must have worked enough to earn sufficient credits and to have paid in adequate taxes to the SSA. In general, that means you must have worked the equivalent of five years full-time out of the last 10 years, but that can vary depending on age.

While VA disability is only available to military veterans who suffer from a service-related disability, SSDI is available to any worker who suffers from any disability that meets the requirements of the medical guide to be deemed a full disability per the SSA guidelines. So, if you have a service-related disability and other medical conditions, you can combine those together to gain approval for SSDI. Unlike VA disability, to get SSDI you must be fully disabled as there are no partial disability benefits.

The Differences
To receive SSDI you can combine chronic health conditions, injuries, and military-related conditions to prove your disability to receive benefits. While the VA will give a disability rating, such as 10%, the SSA will not. You must show that you are completely disabled and unable to work to earn a substantial gainful income. For SSDI benefits, you must be unable to work for at least a year or have a condition that is expected to result in your death. With VA disability, you can receive benefits based on the severity or the disability rating that you receive.

While you can apply for VA disability because of a service-related disability at any time, you need to be aware that you need to apply for SSDI as quickly as possible. Because it is based on credits earned from working, waiting too long to apply can result in your loss of benefits. You can apply for VA disability and SSDI at the same time. Both claims are processed using a different approach through different government agencies, so be aware that different information will need to be supplied for each claim.

Expedited Claims
If you are a veteran who has been approved for VA disability with a 100% P&T disability rating, or if you were wounded in the line of duty after October 2001, you can have your SSDI claim expedited in effort to get faster approval for monthly SSDI benefits. The additional monthly benefits from SSDI can significantly impact your financial situation and help you with your regular living costs. By supplementing your VA disability with SSDI, you can have a major impact on your family’s finances.

How to Apply for SSDI
If you are ready to apply for SSDI, you have numerous options available to you. You can either go online to the SSA website at www.ssa.gov to start the process, call the SSA’s toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213, or visit your local SSA office to start your claim in person.

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 www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/ or by contacting them at [email protected].

3 Responses to “What are the Differences Between VA Disability and SSDI?”

  1. Alex November 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    Are SSDI benefits reduced by SSI being received? I am receiving SSI payments and was denied VA pension due to this income.

  2. Bryan November 11, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    Hi Alex,
    SSI benefits are reduced by any income that you earn, including SSDI. It’s an income-based program, so receiving both SSDI and SSI may disqualify you from other income-based programs, like VA Pension benefits.

  3. Alex November 11, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

    Hi Bryan ~ Thanks. So is it a mistake for me to pursue SSDI and/or VA disability claims?

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