As a Veteran, you may currently have a disability rating from the Veterans Administration. If you do have a VA rating, no matter the number, you should consider applying for the social security disability program. In order to receive VA benefits, there are no income requirements. Which is different from the Social Security program. Social Security looks to what the individual’s monthly working income is. If it is over a certain amount every month then you will be automatically denied consideration for social security benefits. VA benefits are not considered working income and thus would not preclude a veteran from also applying for social security disability benefits.
Oftentimes these benefits go hand in hand. A lot of Veterans have both a Veterans Disability claim and a Social Security disability claim occurring at the same time. Or, they have received one benefit and they are applying for the other. These programs are similar in that they both analyze your medical conditions to determine your level of disability. But there are major differences with the programs.
The major difference between the two programs is that with the VA you do not need to be found 100% disabled to be eligible for compensation. Veterans can receive a disability rating as low at 10% and still receive compensation. On the other hand, Social Security disability does not have the same rating system. In terms of Social Security, you are either disabled or not. There are no ratings when it comes to Social Security.
Another major difference between the two programs is how your doctor’s opinions will be used. In SSD, social security is required to give deference to a treating provider’s medical opinion. A treating physician’s opinion is often the difference between winning and losing your case. This treating physician rule is in direct contrast to how opinion evidence is viewed in VA claims. In VA disability claims, it is often difficult to obtain an opinion statement from a doctor, especially if they work at the VA. Even if the doctor does weigh in as to the veteran’s disability, the VA does not give the opinion deferential weight and they may even consider the VA physician’s opinion biased. The VA’s treating physician rule explains that a veteran’s disability rating should be based on the entire file so as not to give any particular evidence extra weight.
One final difference is the way approvals for different programs are weighed. Having a VA rating is helpful for your social security disability claim because SSA is required to give great weight to the VA rating when making their decision. Alternatively, the VA is not required to give a social security disability decision great weight when determining disability. This is because the main part of what the VA is considering is whether your disability is service-connected or not. While social security is only considering what your actual disability is, not what the cause was.
If you are a Veteran and have suffered an injury in service you should consider applying for both VA benefits as well as Social Security Disability benefits. At LaBovick Law Group we can help you through both applications.