Veterans who served our country qualify not only for military service benefits, but they may also qualify for Social Security disability benefits and more. Any individual who has been an active member of the armed forces at any time and for any duration may be eligible for additional benefits based on annual income, illness, disease or physical or mental impairments. The type of benefits available to veterans will be dependent on a number of factors, such as the amount of Veterans Administration (VA) benefits one receives, the health of the veteran, and more.

VA Benefits and SSA Disability Combined

Veterans can be eligible for a wide array of additional benefits to help reduce the financial burden of disabilities, injuries and any other impairment that makes earning a higher income unattainable. If you are receiving VA benefits and apply for Social Security benefits, you may only qualify for partial SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits. For those who do not accept VA benefits, you may qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits in full. Certain benefits programs base the total amount awarded to a recipient on the overall income you earn or receive from benefit programs. As a result, VA benefits may lower other benefits for which you qualify.

The good news is that unlike VA compensation, you do not have to experience a service-related physical or mental impairment to qualify for SSI or SSDI. The Social Security Administration (SSA) only looks at the ways your disabilities prevent you from being able to work and the overall limitations of such conditions. Whether your injury or disability was caused in combat, work, an accident or a qualifying illness are the factors that determine your eligibility for SSA benefits. The VA benefits and the SSA benefits are separate entities that require different applications. However, it is possible to receive both at the same time.

100% “Permanent & Total” Disability and SSA Benefits

The process of getting approved for Social Security benefits can take far more time than people want or need. Keep in mind that roughly two-thirds of SSA benefit applications are denied upon the initial review, which can take months to receive approval or denial. If an application is denied, it is usually beneficial to file for an appeal rather than to reapply, as this is most often the fastest way to move through the process. And be aware that it can take a few years before benefits are approved through the appeals process.

Another way to expedite the approval process is to receive a 100% “permanent and total” (100% P&T) disabled rating from the military. This classification can sometimes push a veteran through the approval process at a much faster rate. To receive this rating, most veterans must be able to demonstrate they became disabled during active duty on October 1, 2001, or later. You may have to provide documentation from the VA to receive this expedited treatment. It is also possible to reduce the approval time by completing the application accurately, timely and in full with the appropriate supporting documentation the first time.

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The SSA offers two primary types of benefits for individuals whose lives are disrupted and made more difficult by disability. It is possible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These benefits were created to assist people who are unable to work because of their physical or mental conditions that are expected to remain for at least one year or to result in the death of the beneficiary. Some people can qualify based on their age. These benefits are also retroactively available for a specific amount of time, and they are considered a needs-based benefit, meaning that they are based on the income and assets of the applicant. If you receive VA benefits, it may impact your eligibility and the total amount you could receive in SSI benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are another possibility for vets who cannot work in full capacity. To receive these benefits, an individual must have a qualifying work history demonstrating that they have contributed enough taxes into the Social Security fund over the years. This benefit often requires that your tax contributions have been within recent years to qualify. In some cases, a family member’s work history may qualify. It is also possible that SSDI benefits may not be reduced if you also receive VA benefits.

Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility requirements for SSI and SSDI benefits may differ slightly from VA benefits as they are separate processes with different benefit offerings. To begin, you do not have to be a vet to qualify for these benefits. You can be an active member of the military and still qualify under the right circumstances. The primary eligibility requirement is whether or not your condition is listed amongst the qualifying medical issues considered by the SSA to be disabling or if you otherwise meet the SSA’s standards for disability. You will also have to verify these conditions with medical evidence from appropriate medical professionals.

The SSA’s evaluation may also take into consideration whether or not you can still work in any capacity based on your previous employment or any other job type. They will also review the severity of your condition or conditions. If certain conditions do not qualify you for such benefits, you may qualify based on your symptoms and limitations.

All of these benefits have caps in place. If you receive too much from one benefit, you may not qualify for another and vice versa. It might also be helpful to determine which benefits provide the most compensation if you are only able to receive one over the other. And remember that if you have a 100% P&T disability military rating, you may receive expedited treatment to receive benefits far more quickly than others.

Medicare and TRICARE

Additional benefits through the SSA are Medicare and TRICARE. These are health insurance benefits for those who qualify. In some cases, Medicare will automatically be provided to those who are receiving SSDI benefits after a specific amount of time. This type of health insurance offers affordable deductibles, cost-sharing and copays. Some people may not have to pay anything at all.

TRICARE is typically used as supplemental coverage for Medicare rather than being used as primary coverage when individuals are using both. This type of insurance is for members of the military, their families and retirees. TRICARE is most commonly provided at military facilities; however, it is possible that treatment or examinations may be conducted at civilian medical facilities. Experts recommend speaking with both TRICARE and Medicare representatives to determine the right options for your specific needs.

Spousal Support and Survivors Benefits

Family members might also be eligible to receive benefits based on the physical and mental limitations of a loved one. If you are married or divorced, your spouse and ex-spouse may also be able to receive SSA benefits based on a partner’s disabilities and earnings or lack thereof. The parents and children of someone who is disabled may also be able to receive benefits. And in the case of death, surviving family members may also qualify for additional benefits.

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About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call at (800) 492-3260.

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