The physical wounds of war are hard enough to recover from. Many veterans also struggle with unseen wounds that can still qualify them for SSI, SSDI, or VA disability benefits. These can include traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse disorder, mental illness, or other less obvious conditions. In order to receive these benefits, however, veterans need to be aware of the issues that they’re facing and be able to prove to their local VA Medical Center or Social Security Administration office that they are unable to work because of those conditions.
The difference between SSI, SSDI, and VA disability
SSI is a federal program that can be awarded to individuals who are disabled and unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment. To qualify for SSI, you need to have limited income and resources.
VA disability benefits, on the other hand, are available only to veterans who have been determined by the Department of Veteran Affairs as unemployable due to service-connected disabilities.
SSDI is a federal program that can be awarded to individuals who are disabled and unable to work due to an impairment that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. To qualify for SSDI, you need to meet certain requirements, including having worked in jobs where Social Security taxes were paid into the system.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD can be a debilitating condition, preventing veterans from maintaining employment, getting an education and functioning in society. PTSD is a qualifying condition for Social Security (SSI), SSDI, and VA disability benefits for many veterans. PTSD is difficult to diagnose, which makes it challenging for veterans to get the help they need.
Hearing loss often accompanies traumatic brain injury. In addition, many veterans suffer from hearing loss due to their exposure to explosions from bombs and gunfire. According to the Veterans Benefits Administration, as of 2020 more than 1.3 million veterans were receiving disability compensation for hearing loss, and more than 2.3 million received compensation for tinnitus.
Emotional issues: depression and anxiety
Many veterans struggle mentally after returning from war. Their lives have drastically changed. Some of the things they see on the battlefield can cause severe emotional trauma. Even if they don’t display symptoms severe enough to be diagnosed with PTSD, witnessing a traumatic event in which death or injury was involved affects even the strongest of individuals. Depression and anxiety often accompany the aftermath of these events and are also common mental illnesses among combat veterans.