How Veterans Can Qualify for Social Security Disability
Did you know that veterans may be eligible for both VA disability and Social Security disability at the same time? The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly resources for people in need. If you are receiving VA disability benefits, you may qualify for additional monthly benefits to help pay for all your living needs. While VA disability and Social Security disability are both offered by government agencies, there are some big differences between the two. Here are some facts you should know about Social Security disability if you’re hoping to apply:
1. When You Apply Matters
If you’re applying for Social Security disability benefits, you’ll want to do so as soon as you realize you’re unable to work. While you can apply for VA disability at any point after an active-duty injury, the same is not true for Social Security disability benefits. To qualify, you must have worked and earned taxable income for any five of the past ten years. The SSA defines work as earning about $5,000 per year, so any position in the armed forces will earn enough to qualify.
2. You Must Be Completely Disabled
Another big difference between VA disability and Social Security disability is the severity of your injury or illness. To qualify for Social Security benefits, you must have a disability that prevents you from working for at least 12 months, or will result in death. If you can still work part time, you will not be eligible for Social Security benefits. This often means that veterans with a low VA disability rating will not be eligible for Social Security, but not always.
For example, let’s say you served in the Air Force for 20 years and left the Air Force with a 30% disability rating due to carpal tunnel disease. You continued to work as a salesperson for a couple of years, until you were diagnosed with cancer. In this scenario, you likely wouldn’t qualify due to carpal tunnel, but a severe cancer diagnosis almost always qualifies for disability benefits.
3. Some Veterans’ Claims Are Expedited
The SSA does its best to ensure that wounded warriors’ claims are approved quickly to best help our veterans. This means that if you meet certain criteria, your claim will be expedited for rapid review. There are currently two options for veterans’ quick claim approval:
- You have a 100% P&T disability rating
- You were injured on or after October 1, 2001
If you meet either of the above criteria, your claim could be approved in as little as 10 days. You’ll just need to make a note of your status as a wounded warrior on your Social Security application. You can include this on the final page of the application, which is for notes.
Starting Your Application
The easiest way to apply for Social Security benefits is online on the SSA’s website. You can even save your progress to be completed at a later time. If you’d rather apply with the help of a Social Security representative, you can make an appointment to apply at your closest SSA office. Call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to apply in person.
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By Eric Minghella
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