How to Qualify for SSDI Benefits While On VA Disability
As of 2014, almost 4 million veterans in the United States have a service-connected disability. Of these, over a million have a disability rating of 70% or higher, leaving them unable to provide for themselves through regular work. Unfortunately, some veterans assume that receiving VA disability disqualifies them from other disability benefits. Thankfully, this is not the case.
If you currently receive VA benefits, you may also be eligible to receive additional help through Social Security disability insurance (SSDI).
Benefits of Applying for SSDI
Some veterans struggle to find the necessity of applying for benefits through two different government programs. This is especially true when SSDI is famously tricky and lengthy to receive. However, veterans experience a number of benefits when applying for SSDI that could help them to receive extra monthly benefits, such as:
- An expedited claims process. Most SSDI applicants face a lengthy claims process, which can last anywhere from a few months to over a year. However, all military service members who became disabled while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001 have their applications expedited. While this on its own does not improve your chances at approval, there are other aspects that may, such as…
- Potentially-higher approval rate based on VA rating. VA benefits are awarded through a government program that assesses veteran disabilities on their own. While this rating is separate than the assessment needed by Social Security, it does have some weight on your application. Veterans with a VA rating of 70% or higher show an already-disabling disorder that prevents regular work, giving applicants a higher chance of SSDI approval.
- Simultaneous Medicare and TRICARE benefits. While TRICARE benefits help hundreds of thousands of veterans with medical expenses, they do not cover these expenses in their entirety. Medicare benefits, which are provided through SSDI, are provided simultaneously with TRICARE benefits to further reduce the strain of future medical issues.
Qualifying for SSDI
Qualifying for Social Security disability insurance benefits is a bit different than qualifying for VA benefits. Because the program is available to all Americans, only those with conditions that are severely disabling can qualify for insurance. The qualifications for the program are broken into two categories: income and medical. The vast majority of veterans have enough income and work experience through military service to qualify for benefits, so here we will focus on the medical requirements of the program.
SSDI applicants must demonstrate “total and permanent disability” in order to qualify for monthly benefits. This is characterized by having a severe mental or physical disability that is expected to last at least one year or end in death. All qualifying disabilities are listed in the Social Security Blue Book, which can be found on their main website to compare your diagnosis. Listings are grouped by type and body system for easier sorting — for example, amputations are listed under Section 1.00: “Musculoskeletal System”, while traumatic brain injury (TBI) is listed under Section 11.00: “Neurological Disorders”.
By comparing the severity of your diagnosis to a Blue Book listing, you can get a sense of whether or not you may medically qualify for benefits. If you are unsure about your situation, it is best to speak with a physician before applying to officially assess your diagnosis.
Starting the Application Process
SSDI applications can be found online whenever you are ready to begin. Here you can also find FAQs and lists of what to prepare before getting started. In addition to the normal SSDI requirements, veterans can provide additional paperwork that may assist them during the process, such as:
- Form DD-214 (for those who were discharged from military service)
- Proof of military pay or workers’ comp
- Any military medical records that support your disability
If you need assistance with filling out your application, you can receive help from a caregiver, loved one, or local Social Security representative at any point during the process.
This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at http://www.disability-benefits-help.org or by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org.