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VA disability why doesn't it use the same disability rating as SSDI?

How is SSDI different from VA Disability?

It you are a veteran and you have a severe health condition and you are not able to work you probably know that you may be able to get not only VA disability benefits but also Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

VA disability is offered through the Veteran’s Administration while SSDI is administered through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The good news is you might qualify for both benefits; the bad news is there are 2 different processes and the requirements for each program vary so you may have to fight weeks, months or years through both systems to get the benefits you so desperately need.

Why are the VA disability and SSDI processes different?

Recently on our disability forum we had an applicant ask, “Why are the VA and SSDI disability processes different if they are for the same injury or illness?”

This is a great question, and although I’ve never heard this answer to this particular question I am going to guess it has to do with the origination and intent of each program.

Why do you get VA disability benefits?

You may be eligible for VA disability benefits if you have been injured due to your military service.  To be eligible for VA benefits you must be a veteran, a veteran's dependent, a surviving spouse, child or parent of a deceased veteran, an active duty service member, or a member of the reserve or National Guard. You also must have served in the active military, naval or air services, and have been discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable." 38 U.S.C. $ 101(2), 38 CFR $ 3.1(d) 2006.

Unlike the SSA, VA disability is trying to compensate you for your injury or loss that you received while serving our country. The VA is attempting to make you “whole.” In this way it is much more like workers’ compensation than SSDI benefits.

Why do you get SSDI benefits?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) became law in July 1956 and was created as an “insurance” program that each claimant would contribute towards. It was originally designed to be different than workers' compensation and veterans pension laws in that it chose to define disability as "an impairment of mind or body which continuously renders it impossible for the disabled person to follow any substantial gainful occupation," and was likely to last for "the rest of a person's life."

It was also created for claimants whose condition was expected to last for 12 continuous months and left them 100% disabled and unable to work. This requirement differs substantially from VA disability benefits which uses a rating system to determine the amount paid to a VA. Disabled veterans receiving VA disability benefits may also continue working. SSDI recipients who are able to work and make too much money are considered automatically NOT disabled.

So why do VA disability benefits and SSDI use a different disability rating and force the claimant to meet different criteria? They were developed for different reasons to compensate individuals for different reasons.