Many times throughout my week, I will get a phone call from someone applying for Social Security disability benefits asking why Social Security doesn’t consider them disabled when they are considered disabled through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). One would think that the programs have the same eligibility criteria; however, they do not.

Social Security disability determinations cannot be based upon whether or not a person receives VA disability because the criteria for disability approval are so vastly different for the VA and Social Security systems. Not only are the two programs completely separate and different, the basis for being awarded disability with Social Security can be more complex than with VA disability.

Social Security disability is a “total” disability program, not a percentage disability program. For Social Security purposes, an individual must be completely incapable of going back to any one of their former jobs within the last fifteen years (this fifteen year period is known as the relevant work period).

Conversely, VA disability is based upon service-related injuries or conditions that may or may not cause an individual to be “totally” disabled. Veterans receive a disability benefit monthly amount based upon their percentage of disability rating, and they receive this monthly benefit whether they are working or not. In fact, there are many Veterans receiving disability benefits from the VA who are working full time jobs. Individuals who are working full time jobs could never be approved for SSDI or SSI because the Social Security Administration does not consider individuals who can work full time to be disabled.

In conclusion, there is no percentage of VA disability that will automatically make an individual eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Veterans have to go through the same medical process as all other citizens, and if they meet all the requirements of Social Security disability they will be entitled to receive benefits.

If you have additional questions about Social Security disability benefits, feel free to contact us anytime at 877.526.3457. We have an experienced team of West Virginia Social Security Disability attorneys, and one of our representatives will be happy to answer your questions. Or if you’d prefer to contact us online, please fill out this form and we will respond to you shortly.

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law
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