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What is the Difference Between Veteran Disability Benefits & Social Security Disability?

August 30, 2019

The primary difference between veteran disability and social security disability is that one only serves veterans, while the other serves any citizen of the United States who qualifies for disability benefits.

The Department of Veterans Affairs administers disability ratings and payments to any veteran who suffered an injury during their time of service. In addition to taking care of service members, VA disability prevents veterans from being denied coverage for “preexisting conditions.”

The Social Security Disability Program seeks to help any eligible citizen who is physically incapable of reasonable employment. The program is also more complex than the VA disability process.

Veteran Disability Ratings

For any injuries sustained or initiated (bodily wear and tear) during a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine’s time in service, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs assigns a disability rating for monthly payout.

Ratings are given as a percentage, both on individual injuries and as a total combination of injuries. While the rating system can be complex depending on the number of injuries and the severity of each, the final disability rating lies somewhere between 0-100%, which merits a specific benefits amount.

VA disability is an obligation from the government to assist injured veterans as long as they suffer from injuries they endured while in military service.

A significant privilege to VA disability is the opportunity for the disabled veteran to continue earning a livable wage while receiving disability compensation. Naturally, disabled veterans are encouraged to improve their health and exercise discernment when re-entering the workforce.

Social Security Disability

Technically, social security disability is a payout on an insurance plan. If you’ve paid social security taxes (which are required), then you pay into social security benefits.

The social security administration does not assign a rating to those eligible to receive disability benefits. You either qualify for all of it or none of it.

While those eligible for social security disability compensation might be able to work some, the key is that they are unable to acquire “gainful and substantial” employment. As such, those who have qualified to receive social security benefits does not mean they magically achieve “gainful and substantial” employment while also receiving disability pay.

Specifically, those qualifying and receiving social security disability are limited in their working income to approximately $9,000 a year.

Changes in Disability Law After 2017

Prior to 2017, veterans receiving high disability ratings (usually 100%) with the VA were fast-tracked in qualifying for social security disability.

Each agency must perform its own investigation prior to awarding benefits. Before 2017, a veteran qualifying for full benefits at one agency pushed another agency to do the same.

Changes in social security regulations in 2017 allowed these agencies to work more independently. Therefore, each agency examines the evidence submitted by the other agency but may still make their own decision.

In short, as a disabled veteran, you may qualify for social security disability benefits in addition to your VA benefits. Discussing your injuries and current VA disability rating with an attorney will help you know your options and next steps to receiving adequate benefits.

For more information about how a disability attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.