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What You Should Know about Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance & VA Disability Benefits


Did you know that veterans who receive VA disability may be eligible for additional benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA)? If you were discharged from the military recently, or have worked at least part-time since your leave, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is a monthly payment that can be used for your healthcare, rent, household needs, or any other daily living expenses.

About Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI is available for adults aged 18-65 who have paid taxes throughout life. The work history you’ll need will vary by age, as the SSA will not expect a 22-year-old veteran to have worked nearly as much as a 45-year-old. Generally speaking, any US Military ranking is more than enough income to meet the SSA’s income thresholds.

Unlike VA disability, there is a “statute of limitations” of sorts for SSDI benefits. If you have not worked “recently,” which typically means any five of the past ten years, you will not qualify. You should apply for SSDI as soon as you’re unable to work.

Qualifying for SSDI

Unlike the VA, the SSA will want to know your primary doctor’s opinion regarding your disability. Because you can qualify for SSDI at any point in your life, not just after an injury on active duty, your doctor’s opinion will go a long way in helping you get approved for benefits.

The biggest difference between Social Security disability and VA disability is you must be able to prove that you’re completely disabled and will be unable to work for at least 12 months to receive SSDI benefits. You cannot receive smaller payments for a partial disability. Social Security is an all-or-nothing program. The easiest way to qualify is by meeting a listing found in the SSA’s medical guide, known as the Blue Book. This online resource outlines exactly which symptoms or test results you’ll need to qualify. Some conditions that are eligible include, but are not limited to:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Amputations
  • Burns and severe lacerations
  • Paralysis

Each disability will have unique qualifications. If you have a spinal cord injury and are unable to walk, you’ll automatically medically qualify. Veterans with PTSD can also qualify, but you’ll need a wealth of medical evidence proving how your PTSD affects your ability to complete daily living activities such as traveling or socializing with others. Because the entire Blue Book is available online, you can review listings with your doctor to see if you should qualify before starting the application process.

Applying for SSDI Benefits

Veterans applying for SSDI benefits can complete the entire application online. If you’d prefer, you can also apply at your local Social Security office. You can schedule an appointment by calling the SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

Most veterans will hear back from the SSA within five months, but those with a 100% P&T VA disability rating, or those injured on active duty after October of 2002 will have their claim expedited. If you meet either qualification, you could hear back from the SSA within ten days.

If you are a transitioning service member, veteran or family member and need assistance with your benefits in the WAServes network, click here to select a WAServes service provider to help you apply for SSDI.

Get Assistance with SSDI from WAServes

The WAServes network thanks to the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help for authoring this article for its clients.

The Outreach Team wrote this article at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website or by contacting them at [email protected]

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