If you are receiving Veterans benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or alternatively, if you believe that you are eligible to receive such benefits, then you may be concerned about whether and how Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits will influence your VA benefits eligibility. This is a justified concern, of course. In many cases, the receipt of benefits may be influenced by the existence of other sources of income.
Veterans benefits can be affected by your receipt of SSDI benefits, but not always. Whether your Veterans benefits are affected will largely depend on the type of benefits you are awarded by the VA, among various other factors.
Veterans Benefits — Disability Compensation and Pension Programs
Veterans benefits can perhaps be better understood when split into two categories: disability compensation and the VA pension program.
If you have a disability that arose during active service, then you are entitled to apply for and potentially receive compensation in the form of Veterans disability benefits.
The VA pension program pays out for disabilities that arise from incidents that occur outside of the active service context. Further, a VA pension will only be paid out to veterans who have minimal income. For example, if you are unemployed (and have no substantial assets or other income) and you were disabled in an accident that occurred years after active service, you might be eligible to receive VA pension payments.
Do SSDI Benefits Interfere with Veterans Benefits?
SSDI benefits may interfere with a subset of Veterans benefits — more specifically, your SSDI benefits may affect your eligibility to receive Veterans pension payments. By contrast, SSDI benefits will not affect your eligibility to receive Veterans disability benefits.
Both SSDI and Veterans disability are entitlement-based programs, whereas the Veterans pension program is needs-based (not entirely unlike Social Security Income (SSI)). Stated simply: SSDI and Veterans disability benefits are unrelated to your income level. As such, even if you receive significant SSDI benefits, it will not affect your Veterans disability benefits. Remember, the basis for Veterans disability benefits is the service you gave the country, not your income — you could receive millions of dollars through inheritance and still receive full SSDI and Veterans disability benefits.
If you are receiving a pension through the VA, however, the payments may be substantially affected by your receipt of SSDI benefits (as your SSDI benefits might increase your income level to the point where your pension eligibility is affected). It’s worth noting that you may still be able to receive both SSDI benefits and a needs-based Veterans pension, in certain circumstances — with the aid of a skilled attorney, for example, you might be able to setup a first-party settled trust or use some other mechanism to qualify.
Veterans Disability Determinations Do Not Generally Affect SSDI Determinations
The disability determinations made by the VA — for example, if the VA determines that you are partially disabled pursuant to an internal evaluation and ruling — are irrelevant to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA is not legally required to consider the decisions of other public agencies when making determinations relating to your SSDI application. Thus, it’s entirely possible to be adjudged disabled by the VA, and not-disabled by the SSA.
Importantly, if the VA determines that you are fully and permanently disabled, then your SSDI application will be fast-tracked so that you receive a decision as soon as possible.
Consult an Experienced Tampa SSDI Lawyer for Further Assistance
Here at the Office of Mike Murburg, P.A., we have represented disability claimants in a range of local and national disability disputes, including those that involve complex interactions between SSDI benefits and VA benefits (disability and pension). Over the years, we have assisted clients with securing the benefits to which they are entitled.
Call (813) 264-5363 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced Tampa SSDI lawyer. Our case consultations are always free. During your initial consultation, we will evaluate your circumstances in a holistic manner, and will help you take first steps towards maximizing your benefits.