VA Disability and Social Security Disability Insurance
June 17, 2021
By Shelley W. Elovitz, Esquire
Can you collect both VA Disability and Social Security Disability?
Military veterans who are collecting disability compensation from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) may also be able to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Both agencies have different criteria to receive benefits but it is worth looking into if you are a veteran who was disabled during your service and cannot work. Unlike Workers’ Compensation, there is no offset when claiming both VA Disability and SSDI – you can get the full amount of what you are entitled to from both programs.
To qualify for VA disability, you must have been injured or developed a mental or physical illness during your service or your time in the military worsened a pre-existing condition. The VA rates disabilities on a percentage scale which reflects how much they believe your condition affects your health and abilities to function. For example, a leg amputation may have a different percentage than a finger amputation. The VA will also look at cumulative injuries and combine them into a single rating. If you suffered multiple injuries, it is possible to get a 100% rating. It is also possible to get a 100% rating that is not permanent if the VA expects your condition could improve.
VA Disability benefits are determined by your rating. For 2021, they can range from as little as $144.14 to as much as $3,146.42 per month.
Just because you qualify for disability from the VA does not mean you will qualify for SSDI. While the VA looks at how and when you were injured, the SSA looks at how much time you spent in “covered employment,” how much you paid in Social Security taxes, and whether your disability is severe enough to prevent you from working. If you are awarded SSDI, your monthly benefits are based on your lifetime averages in covered employment. The average SSDI benefits in 2021 are $1,277 a month.
It is worth noting that if you have a 100% permanent and total (P&T) disability rating from the VA, your SSDI application can be expedited. You may also be able to expedite under Social Security’s Wounded Warrior program for veterans who because disabled on active duty on or before October 1, 2001.
If you have questions about SSDI, contact us online or call (412) 338-1153.