Protecting Those who Protect and Serve

By Rachael Pas

Are you a disabled veteran?  Is someone you love a disabled veteran?  American veterans face a unique set of challenges in today’s society, from accessing adequate healthcare to understanding benefits potentially available to them.  After serving their country faithfully, many struggle to make ends meet on their monthly VA disability benefit alone. Many veterans do not know that they may be able to simultaneously receive VA disability benefits and Social Security disability benefits.  Having grown up in a military family, I am familiar with the struggles that are unique to our military families and our disabled veterans.

If you have a service-connected disability and are receiving VA disability benefits, you may be eligible to receive your full Social Security disability benefit at the same time.  In addition, the Social Security Administration may expedite your claim for disability benefits, if provided with the right information.     When applying for Social Security disability benefits, you will want to provide the Social Security Administration with a copy of your disability decision from the VA, DD-214, your medical information (names and contact information for your providers, as well as a list of medications that you take), and any medical records you have on hand.  In some cases, the Social Security Administration will expedite your claim for disability benefits – a crucial factor, considering that it can take up to 2 years to be awarded Social Security disability benefits.

Social Security provides for two different types of disability benefits, depending on your work history and household income – Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Once SSA finds you disabled medically, your eligibility for either SSDI or SSI benefits is determined by work history and household income. If you have worked 5 out of the last 10 years, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits – your monthly benefit will depend on what you paid into the system over the years that you worked.  If it has been several years since you worked, you may only be eligible for SSI benefits. SSI benefits are currently capped at $783 per month for an eligible individual. SSI benefits can be offset or denied based on other sources of household income and financial resources. For instance, veterans receiving VA disability benefits will likely not be eligible to receives SSI benefits, even if Social Security finds you medically disabled.  The reason for this is that many veterans become disabled or stop working and then wait several years before applying for Social Security disability benefits. By this point your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits have likely expired.  Receipt of a monthly VA disability check is considered other household income that impacts financial eligibility for any SSI benefit.

Helping our disabled veterans access benefits and achieve financial stability is an important part of my practice.  If you or a loved one is a disabled veteran with questions about Social Security disability benefits, call my office for a free consultation.  If you have a disability finding from the VA, you may be entitled to simultaneously receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and expedited processing of your disability claim – you want to act now before your Social Security benefits expire.  I can help!

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