Individuals may receive both Veterans Administration (VA) compensation benefits and Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits simultaneously, and many veterans apply for both at the same time. Unlike other types of benefits, there is no offset involved for those who receive both VA and SSD payments.
Veterans who were not dishonorably discharged that sustained a service-related injury or illness or who had a condition made worse by military service may apply for benefits. A veteran need not be totally disabled to receive VA benefits. Once the VA has received a complete application, it will review the information and arrive at a “compensable rating.” Essentially, this is how disabled the VA considers the applicant to be and is measured in percentages in increments of 10: 0 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent and so forth. Benefits are available for those with a rating as low as 10 percent.
In contrast the SSA defines disability in all or nothing terms; either a claimant is totally disabled or is not disabled, in which case the claim will be denied. Although any medical condition, not just a service-related condition, qualifies one for SSD, there is a requirement that the applicant have earned a sufficient number of work credits to be eligible. For most people, this means they must have worked five out of the last ten years. Importantly military service is included in this determination. Unfortunately, if a veteran has not worked at all in recent years, he or she may not be eligible for SSD.
The Treating Physician
Under SSD guidelines, the claimant’s treating physician’s opinion and recommendations are given deference. Often this can be the difference in approval of benefits or denial. Conversely, the VA bases its decision on the entire file and no special weight is given to a treating physician’s opinion.
How a Decision in One Agency Impacts the Decision in the Other
The VA does not place much weight on an SSD finding of disability. Primarily that is because SSD is looking at disability resulting from any cause not just from military service. However, the VA is required to review the SSD file.
In contrast, if a claimant is rated at least 70 percent disabled by the VA, the likelihood of approval of SSD benefits is significantly increased. A 70 percent rating by the VA indicates to Social Security that the person is either incapable of working or would find full time work extremely difficult.
Contact a Buffalo Disability Law Firm for Legal Advice
If you are a veteran with a service-related condition, it is important to fully understand all to which you are entitled. Call Chris Pashler or Kathleen Devereaux, Buffalo disability lawyers, at 716-874-1739.