Military veterans can collect benefits from both Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), but there are some caveats. These federal agencies have different rules and processes to determine eligibility and payments. Qualifying for disability payments from the VA doesn’t mean you’ll receive the same benefit from Social Security. But if you have a 100% permanent and total disability rating from the VA, your chances are higher.
Veterans who receive VA disability sustained a mental or physical injury during service. Those suffering from pre-existing conditions that have worsened over time are also eligible. The Social Security Administration bases its qualifications on your work history. That is, how long you worked at a job where you paid Social Security taxes.
Medical eligibility and benefits
The VA rates disability on a percentage scale. This scale looks at your condition and how much it affects your ability to function and overall health. They apply different percentages to specific injuries. The SSA bases its eligibility on the severity of the condition. For example, you may qualify for SSA benefits if your injury prevents you from working for a minimum of one year. In other words, your injury has caused you to be disabled.
The VA will determine financial compensation based on your injury rating, while the SSA bases payments on the income you generated while paying taxes.
How VA and SSA benefits work together
The SSA will hasten your claim if the VA gives you a 100% disability rating. If you don’t have a 100% disability rating, you can still qualify for expedited processing. The Wounded Warrior Project is there to help those navigate this process. They offer assistance to veterans who are disabled from active duty starting October 1, 2001, and onward.
Additional important information
There is no offset if you receive both Social Security and VA benefits. You are entitled to full benefits from both agencies. It’s also possible to receive medical coverage through both agencies. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients are eligible for Medicare two years after receiving benefits. Veterans are covered through Tricare. If you receive both forms of coverage, Medicare becomes the primary payer, and Tricare acts as a supplemental benefit.
If you sustained injuries as a military service member, it is important to understand your rights and benefits that offer income stability and adequate medical care to cover your needs.