Soldiers who engage in military service can suffer from psychological and physical side effects well after they have separated from the service. Because of these side affects disabled veterans can collect Social Security Disability benefits and Veteran Affairs Disability benefits at the same time.
The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (“VA”) both have disability programs. However, each program evaluates and processes disability claims differently. The VA evaluates veterans with a service-connected disability while the SSA evaluates individuals who have a disabling condition that is expected to last a minimum of one year or result in death.
Primarily, the SSA system is different from the VA system in that there are no percentages of disability. VA system allows for partial disability benefits in percentages 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% up to 100% and then awards benefits based on the determination. The SSA heavily relies on medical records to determine disability and the definition of disability differs between the VA and the SSA. Qualifying for VA benefits does not mean that you automatically qualify for benefits under SSA.
Some veterans are entitled to expedited processing of their Social Security disability applications. Those who served in the military after October 1, 2001 and became disabled while on active duty qualify for expedited processing.