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Veteran disability is this the same as SSDI benefits?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I was recently injured while serving in the military. I am a little confused about the difference between Veteran’s benefits offered through the VA and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits offered through the Social Security Administration.”

Although both the Veteran’s Administration and the Social Security Administration (SSA) offer disability benefits, they are not the same, and the requirements to qualify for each program are different.

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What are veteran disability benefits?


Veteran disability benefits are offered to military personnel with a service related disability. Specifically, benefits are paid to veterans who have been injured or have contracted a disease while on active duty or which was made worse by active military service. Additionally, certain veterans who were disabled due to the actions of the VA healthcare system may also qualify for benefits.

Compensation amounts paid under the veteran disability program can range from $133 to over $3,300 per month, depending on your level of disability and number of dependents.

How do I apply for veteran disability benefits?

The best way to apply for VA disability is to go online to the VA website and submit your veteran disability claim. The VA notes that veteran disability claims which are processed with medical evidence to support the disability, a copy of the serviceman’s DD214 or separation documents, and their dependency records (marriage & children's birth certificates), will generally be processed much more quickly than those without.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are paid to workers who are 100% disabled and unable to work due to a severe health condition. Workers must prove that their condition will last 12 continuous months and does not allow them to work. They also must have sufficient work credits to be considered “insured” for SSDI.

To apply for SSDI benefits you can visit www.ssa.gov and fill out the online SSDI benefits application. Claimant’s compensation is based on the worker’s qualified earnings records and the amount of taxes they have paid into the SSA system. Qualifying dependents may also receive SSDI auxiliary benefits.

Can I receive both veteran disability benefits and SSDI benefits?


Disability veterans may be able to receive both SSDI benefits and VA benefits, but because the requirements are different for each program, receiving veteran disability benefits does not guarantee that you will receive SSDI benefits.

For example, the VA awards partial disability benefits. In this case you might have a disability rating from the VA of 40%. The SSA, however, only awards compensation to individuals who are 100% disabled and who cannot perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). In this case, the SSA may claim that although you are 40% disabled, you have retained the ability to perform some type of work.

If, however, the VA administration claims you are 100% disabled, the Social Security Administration must give some weight to the VA finding of disability. If they do, they are much more likely to award SSDI benefits to you if the VA has already determined you are 100% disabled.

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