How to Qualify for SSDI After Getting VA Benefits Approval

By Eric Minghella, Outreach Specialist

If you are a veteran who has a medical condition that keeps you from working and you have already been approved for disability benefits through the Veterans Administration (VA),you might also be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)benefits from the Social Security Administration(SSA).While both are government run disability programs, both programs have their differences. Understanding the differences in the two programs and knowing how to proceed with your claims is very beneficial in the success of your claims and being approved for benefits.

The Differences Between VA Benefits and SSDI

SSDI benefits and VA disability benefits are two very different programs. To be approved for VA benefits, your disability must be related to your active military service. The VA program will provide disability benefits if you are not completely disabled. You are given a compensatory disability rating, which determines the amount of your monthly benefits. To receive VA benefits, you do not have to be fully disabled. The VA offers benefits for those who are partially disabled. You can receive compensation if you have a disability rating as low as 10%. Any medical conditions that are not related to your military service are not considered during the VA disability claims process. If your condition deteriorates, you can ask that the VA review your situation. Your disability rating may change, and you might be eligible for more benefits.

The SSA only awards disability benefits to individuals who are completely disabled. All kinds of medical conditions are considered when an individual applies for SSDI benefits. However, any rating of less than 100% is not compensable through SSDI. So, if you have a military disability that the VA gave you a 50% rating on then you have other medical problems, such as diabetes, hypertension, and hearing loss, all those conditions will be considered when determining if you are disabled. All those combined might qualify as legally disabled per the SSA guidelines. The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called theBlue Book.Your condition must meet the medical criteria of a listing to be approved using the traditional approach.

Some Veterans Have Claims Expedited

The disability claims process can be long and drawn out. Often, claims are denied, and an appeal must be filed. However, the SSA must expedite disability claims for some veterans. As an example, a military veteran who receives VA benefits because of a VA compensation rating of 100% permanent and total (P&T) will have disability claims expedited by the SSA. However, the 100% P&T rating by the VA does not guarantee approval for SSDI benefits. There are other groups of veterans who qualify for expedited claims processing as well. Wounded Warriors, who are classified as any veteran who became disabled while on active military duty, can request expedited processing through the Wounded Warrior program.

You should understand that expedited processing does not mean that your claim will be handled quickly. It might still take a time for a decision to be rendered regarding your claim. The term expedited just means that your claim will be handled more quickly than claims that are note considered expedited. How long it takes to get a decision regarding your claim depends on several factors. Those factors might include the nature of your disability, how quickly your medical records are provided to the SSA, whether the SSA decides to send you for a medical exam, where you live and where the SSA office is located, and whether you have submitted all medical evidence before a hearing or decision. All the factors that apply to processing any other SSDI claim are also applicable.

Applying for SSDI Benefits

You have three options for getting your SSDI claim started. You can go online and start the application,or you can call 1-800-772-1213 to get your application underway. Your third option is to schedule an appointment at your local SSA officeand meet with a representative face-to-face.

Remember, documentation is the key to a successful claim, so make sure you have all themedical evidencereadily accessible for Disability Determination Services to review, so they can provide you with a fair decision on your claim.

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