Are you unable to work due to a disabling medical condition? If you served in any branch of the United States military, you might be entitled to benefits from both the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, the two agencies use different criteria for determining eligibility and benefits – and though you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and VA benefits, you must apply for them separately. Here’s what disabled veterans should know about applying for SSDI, including how Keefe Disability Law’s dedicated Boston legal team can help you navigate the confusing application process and bureaucratic red tape to get the benefits you deserve.
How the VA Handles Disability Compensation Eligibility and Benefits
Not all disabled veterans are eligible for disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA requires a causal link between your time in the military and your disability. To qualify for benefits, your disabling condition must have been caused or exacerbated by your military service. For example, you may be entitled to VA disability benefits if:
- You suffered an injury during your service
- You developed a physical or mental illness while serving
- You had a preexisting condition worsen due to your military service
The VA determines the amount of your monthly benefit payment based on your disability rating, an assigned percentage representing the severity of your condition, and the extent to which it impairs your overall health and ability to function. When you have more than one service-connected condition, the VA will consider them all and use a complex formula to assign an appropriate disability rating. You may be entitled to VA disability benefits even if your condition is ultimately expected to improve.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance
In contrast to the VA, the SSA is less focused on how you became disabled than it is on the severity of your condition, how long it will prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA), and whether you’ve worked in jobs that pay into Social Security long enough to earn sufficient work credits. To qualify for SSDI:
- You must have a medically determinable impairment that meets or equals an entry in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments
- Your condition must be severe enough to prevent work or SGA
- Your condition must be expected to last for at least a year or result in death
- You should have 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned in the last ten years; you can earn up to four credits each year – and military service counts
Unlike the VA, which bases your monthly benefits on the disability rating it assigned you, SSDI payments are determined by your previous earnings.
Disabled Veterans May Qualify for Expedited SSDI Benefits
For many SSDI applicants, it can take months or even years to be approved for benefits. However, as a disabled veteran, your claim may qualify for expedited processing under one of the following programs:
- Wounded Warriors, which expedites SSDI claims processing for veterans who became disabled while actively serving in the military any time after October 1, 2001
- 100 Percent Permanent and Total Veterans Initiative, which offers expedited processing of SSDI claims for disabled veterans assigned a 100 percent permanent and total disability rating by the VA
You Fought for Our Country, Let Us Help You Fight for the Disability Benefits You Deserve
The SSDI application process is notoriously difficult, with the SSA denying up to 70 percent of initial claims. Don’t risk a denial. Let the accomplished attorneys with Keefe Disability Law handle your SSDI application and fight for the benefits you deserve.
Complete the online contact form or call us at 508-283-5500 to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation with a member of our experienced Boston legal team. For more information, request a complimentary download of our book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process.