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Social Security Disability Versus Veterans Disability Benefits

If you served our country and suffered a serious injury during combat, or developed a debilitating injury or condition after being discharged, you may be tempted to pursue both Social Security and veterans’ disability benefits. It is quite common for veterans to have claims going on simultaneously. You can receive VA disability benefits and Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits at the same time. This is because VA disability benefits are not tethered to income, unlike SSDI insurance claims.

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Port of San Diego via flickr

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Port of San Diego via flickr

Understanding the Differences Between Social Security and Veterans Disability Benefits

A major difference is that the process of qualifying for VA benefits is less stringent when compared to qualifying for SSDI benefits. To qualify for veterans’ disability benefits, you do not need to be totally disabled in order to be eligible. SSDI benefits, on the other hand, are not accessible for a mere partial loss of employment. For SSDI, you must be totally disabled to get compensation.

Another difference is the “treating physician rule.” For SSDI claims, your physician is considered your “treating physician” and their opinion is given deference. Conversely, for VA disability benefits, your treating doctor’s opinion is not given deference. The VA has broader authority and can determine that your physician’s opinion is biased. This means the VA could require you to undergo an independent examination.

Pursuing Both Benefits Can Actually Work Synergistically

If you are eligible, it makes sense to pursue both VA and SSDI benefits. Why? Because if you are approved for VA disability benefits, it can help you qualify for SSDI benefits. This is due to the fact that another federal government agency has determined you are either incapable of working or you are disabled to the point where full-time employment would be difficult for you to maintain.  In fact, many federal courts have held that the VA’s assessment of your disability, and the associated disability rating, are entitled to “great weight” in the determination of whether you are actually disabled (and would therefore qualify for SSDI benefits). So this means that the Social Security Administration will likely place major weight on the VA’s determination of whether you receive disability benefits.

On the other hand, the VA does not place much weight on an SSDI benefit award. Why? Because the VA’s assessment of whether you qualify for benefits under their program depends largely on your service record and when you developed your disability. This means it is not necessarily the fact that you are disabled, but whether it is service-related. Nevertheless, the VA should be given your entire SSDI file and decision since this information could provide evidence to support your VA claim. In fact, the VA is required to consider your SSDI records.

Contact an Experienced SSDI Benefit Lawyer Today

As you can see, qualifying for SSDI benefits can be quite complex and there are numerous hurdles you must overcome. We are here to help. The experienced SSDI lawyers at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, PA offer free consultations to determine whether you qualify for disability benefits.

Common Reasons Why a Social Security Disability Claim is Rejected

Social Security Disability Insurance (commonly referred to as SSDI) is a federal program run by the Social Security Administration that provides monthly disability benefits to people who become disabled before their age of retirement and cannot earn enough money to support themselves. However, as per the latest statistics, almost one-third of the SSDI applications received each year are flat out rejected. Read on to learn the most common mistakes people commit while filing for SSDI and how best to avoid them.

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by smemon via flickr

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by smemon via flickr

Insufficient “working credits” to qualify

In order to fit the bill for Social Security disability benefits, you need to have worked for a sufficient period of time in the past. The SSA requires a work history of at least 1.5 years of work if you get disabled before 28 for example. Basically, the older you are and the more you have worked as of late, the better probability you have of getting your benefits.

Making more money than you are eligible for

As of 2015, your monthly income should not exceed $1,090 ($1,820 a month in case you are visually impaired) so as to be eligible for SSDI. Drawing income from investments or trusts, receiving workers’ compensation money, etc. may make you ineligible for SSDI.

Not qualifying as “disabled” under the Social Security Administration laws

To qualify for disability benefits, the SSA requires your disability to have lasted for no less than 12 months, or be sufficiently critical that it is going to result in your demise. Additionally, your condition must be on the SSA’s listing of impairments.

Being able to earn in a different but related job

If you are capable of doing some kind of work – regardless of the possibility that it is not the same work you did before – your application may be denied. An analyst will make a determination about your capacity to work.

Failure to submit the correct documents

SSA requires you to submit multiple documents and reports about your salary, work history, applications for other disability benefits, and your medical history, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Be sure to include a list of jobs you had up to 15 years preceding your disability, pay stubs, grant letters, settlement agreements, workers’ compensation benefits, state or local government disability protection or military disability benefits in your file of documents. Do not forget your medical records, test reports, and all other information about the doctor under whose care you have been.

False representations

Finally, be honest with whatever your situation is and do not try to mislead the officials with false, fabricated, or erroneous documents. In case you don’t understand something, it is better you ask for clarification, or better still, contact a Social Security attorney who shall be able to guide you through the entire procedure.

Speak to an Experienced Florida Social Security Disability Attorney Today

As you can see, applying for SSDI can be challenging and you are likely to have your application denied, at least initially. At Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. our team of experienced Florida Social Security disability benefit attorneys offer free consultations so that you, or a loved one, can learn your rights under this vital program. There are no fees for representation before the Social Security Administration in disability claims, unless we win. We have offices in Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties for your convenience.