Qualifying For SSDI Benefits As A U.S. Military Veteran
Military veterans provided a valuable service to this country that often comes at significant physical and mental cost. The likelihood of suffering a disabling injury or developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is considerably higher for these individuals, and lead many to seek disability benefits when working becomes impossible. While most veterans instinctively turn to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) for disability benefits, many may also qualify for supplemental disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. While these two programs do provide disability benefits to those unable to sustain normal work routines, the requirements and process to obtain approval differs. Thus, getting approved for benefits for one program does not guarantee a similar result in the other. In fact, SSDI benefits are often much more difficult to obtain, and the complicated approval process is best handled by an experienced disability insurance attorney. However, while SSDI benefits are generally harder to get, veterans do receive some special considerations in certain situations. An exploration of the issues common to veterans seeking SSDI benefits will follow below.
Differences between VA Disability and SSDI
Qualifying for SSDI benefits involves two major factors that can cut off a person’s ability to receive benefits under the program: income and level of disability. SSDI strictly limits how much a person can earn monthly, and requires recipients to be totally disabled before benefits are available. By contrast, disability benefits from the VA do not have income limits, and it will pay benefits for less than a total disability. Further, unlike SSDI, VA benefits are based upon the percentage of disability assigned to a particular veteran by VA doctors, which ranges from zero (no compensable disability) to 100 percent (total disability). In addition, unlike SSDI, which mandates that the disability be expected to last for at least a year or result in death, VA disability benefits may be awarded on a more temporary basis.
Military Service, Discharge and Misconduct
SSDI benefits are awarded based upon a person being totally disabled, and paying enough taxes into in the system over the past ten years. Thus, the amount of military service or whether the disabling event occurred during or after a release from active duty is irrelevant to the SSDI process. Relatedly, the type of discharge from military service, including dishonorable, also has no impact on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision on a disability claim. Further, misconduct, even if it directly resulted in the disabling condition or was connected to one’s military service, is not factor in the final determination. In other words, an explanation about the specific circumstances that led to the disability is not necessary, expected or even considered to receive SSDI benefits.
Fast-tracking SSDI Decisions for Veterans
Finally, in recognition of the sacrifices soldiers make for this country, expedited processing of SSDI claims are available to those injured while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001 (Wounded Warriors), and for veterans with a 100 percent permanent and total disability rating. However, note that this rating does not guarantee a veteran will meet the SSA’s definition of disability, though denial is unlikely. While the SSA is supposed to automatically expedite these claims, this does not always happen, which underscores the need for an experienced disability insurance attorney to handle claims, so an applicant is treated properly and fairly.
Managing a disability is a daily challenge that does not need to be compounded by financial concerns. To avoid unnecessary financial hardship, investigate the possibility of qualifying for disability benefits with an experienced disability insurance attorney. Farrell Disability Law understands the stresses you are facing, and will fight for the benefits you deserve. Contact the Jacksonville or Orlando offices for a free consultation.