Should I Apply for VA Benefits or Disability Benefits?

Submitted by Elizabeth on

Disabled veterans who were injured while serving in the military may be eligible for both VA benefits as well as Social Security disability benefits. Each of these types of benefits is available separately.

Veterans who were disabled in a non-military setting, i.e., not while in active service, may be eligible for disability benefits even if they are not eligible for VA benefits. Similarly, veterans who are receiving VA benefits because they were injured while serving in the military may not be eligible for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. Ultimately, it all depends on the veteran meeting eligibility criteria for each type of benefit.

What Are VA Benefits?

VA benefits are available for anyone who was injured or became sick as a result of their military service. It may be because their time in the military made an existing condition more severe, or it developed while on active service or developed after discharge from the military but was judged as being due to conditions while on service.

VA benefits may be for physical disabilities such as a back or brain injuries or for mental or psychological disabilities such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

What Are Social Security Disability Benefits?

SSD benefits are paid to those who meet the specific criteria set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Applicants must have accumulated sufficient work credits through past employment and be unable to continue working for at least the next 12 months or are likely to die within that time period. Applicants’ disabilities must also match the criteria for SSD benefits’ eligibility as established by medical evidence as well as a comparison with the appropriate listing in the SSA’s Blue Book.

Which Is Right For Me?

You are entitled to apply for both types of benefits—VA and SSD—independently. The fact that you can receive VA benefit payments will not affect your right to receive disability benefits. The main difference between these two types of benefits is that VA benefits are only available to those applicants whose disability was directly—or indirectly—due to their time serving in the military, while Social Security disability (SSD) payments are not affected by military service, so if the veteran developed a disability at any period of their lives in a non-military situation, they are still potentially eligible for a Social Security disability benefit. The SSA will consider other factors such as time spent working as well as paying contributions to Social Security and the severity of the disability.

Get Help With An SSD Claim

If you have a severe disability and have served in the military on active service, you may be able to apply for two separate types of benefits. If eligible, as judged by Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration, both federal government agencies, you may be able to receive both payments independently without either one affecting the other’s eligibility.

Applying for disability benefits can be a challenging and confusing experience, and you may find that your application for one benefit is initially rejected while the other is accepted. Because of the importance of providing sufficient evidence for both types of benefits, it can help to use the legal expertise of a disability attorney at any stage of the application process.

To get connected with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to our website, complete the Free Case Evaluation form on this page today.

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