Difference between social security and veteran benefits

It is very common to see wartime or retired veterans receive both social security and veteran disability benefits at the same time. At other times, veterans may be receiving veteran’s disability benefit while working and choose to delay their social security claims until full retirement.

Depending on the unique situation and eligibility, each veteran will be receiving different kinds of benefits under different programs. For instance, a veteran who has little to no income due to inability to work after injury caused during wartime, the veteran would be granted not only veteran pension but could also be granted Supplemental Security Income, SSI if they qualify.

Similarly, a veteran who became disabled and qualifies under Social Security Disability, may be granted both Social Security Disability Insurance, SSDI under federal program and a VA disability benefits program.

Social Security vs Veteran Benefits

While social security benefits are granted solely on medical terms veteran disability benefits, as the name suggests, isn’t necessarily granted on disability alone. This means that a veteran would be able to receive veteran benefits even if he/she is

  • Partially disabled;
  • Not completely unable to go to work;
  • Not completely disabled;
  • Not retired;
  • Still working sometimes;

On the other hand, the Social Security Administration, SSA grants Social Security Disability Insurance to people who are completely disabled or unable to perform sufficient work under substantial gainful activity. You are either disabled or ‘not disabled’ according to the SSA’s rules for SSDI.

Another major difference between the two is the ‘general physician’s opinions’. While it is mandatory for a disability claimant to prove through his RFC form that he/she is unable to perform significant work or earn enough income due to their disability, the veteran disability program has no such rule. In fact, doctor’s opinions are not considered while deciding to grant veteran benefits to a veteran.

There is also another award based on veteran benefits, called ‘veteran service connected disability compensation’. This is not an income, and therefore, would not be considered as benefits. A veteran would be able to receive both the veteran disability compensation and the SSDI at the same time without getting their benefits reduced due to social security offset.

Does qualifying for veteran benefits elevate chances for SSDI claims being approved?

Previously, the Social Security Administration, SSA took into account whether you were granted veteran benefits while analyzing your case. If you had been approved for veteran disability benefits or veteran disability compensation, then the SSA considered your case as strong. It also increased chances of getting your social security disability claims approved quicker.

However, as of new rules set by the SSA after 2017, the chances of your SSDI claims getting approved because you were approved for VA pension or VA benefits is no longer taken into account. This is because it is unclear whether you were granted those claims based on ‘total disability’ or ‘partial disability’ basis. Also, it is cumbersome to determine whether the disability was due to service-connected issues or are non-service disabilities.

Although qualifying for veteran pension or veteran benefits will not give any deference to your social security claims, getting your social security claims IS considered necessary by the authorities while granting you veteran benefits or veteran pension. This is because medical evidence listed in your RFC forms or other social security documents can provide further evidence to your veteran claims.

Whether you are looking forward to apply for veteran benefits or social security disability claims, you can consider consulting an attorney for more detailed legal guidance.