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VA disability at 50% for PTSD, can I get SSDI benefits?

VA disability and SSDI benefits

Many disability applicants served in the military and are currently receiving VA disability for an injury they received performing their military service. Recently on our disability forum we had veteran ask, “If I get VA disability benefits at 50% for PTSD will I be able to get SSDI benefits too?”

What is VA disability?

VA disability benefits are offered by the Veteran’s Administration for service-related illnesses or injuries. Unlike the SSA, the VA offers partial or full disability payments after reviewing the claimant’s injuries and determining the “percentage” of injury. Benefits are then paid according to an established payment schedule.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

SSDI is offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and is given to workers who have a severe mental or physical health condition which does not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months.

SSDI is not offered for partial disabilities, and if you are able to continue to work or perform what the SSA calls “substantial gainful activity” you will be automatically denied SSDI benefits. SSDI is also only awarded if the applicant has worked and paid enough into the SSA system to be considered “insured” for SSDI.

Workers who have not worked enough or who have not paid enough taxes will not be considered “insured” and will automatically be denied SSDI. Work credits cannot be bought or borrowed (from a spouse, for example) but must be earned by each worker.

Can this VA also get SSDI?

Now, let’s review the question posed by this veteran. If the veteran is getting VA disability benefits than it is clear that the VA considers them at least partially disabled. What the SSA will ask, that the VA does not consider, is whether they are 100% disabled and whether they can work.

There are several reasons this veteran may not be considered disabled by the SSA:

  1. The veteran has been given a 50% VA disability rating and the SSA believes they are not 100% disabled.

  2. The SSA determined that even though this veteran is partially disabled they still have the ability to perform some type of light or sedentary job.

  3. The veteran does not have enough work credits to be considered insured for SSDI.

How can the veteran win their SSDI case if they are getting VA Disability?

So how can this veteran win their SSDI case? They will have to overcome the potential denials outlined above, and they will have to prove their PTSD meets or exceeds a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments or prove their PTSD, in conjunction with other conditions, does not allow them to work.

Will the Social Security Administration offset my SSDI payment if I get VA disability benefits?

If this veteran was awarded SSDI benefits the SSDI benefits will not reduce the veteran’s VA disability benefits. Consider, however, there are certain types of benefits that can reduce SSDI payments so if you have questions it is important to talk to the Social Security Administration.
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