Veterans Disability and Social Security Disability–Differences
While some veterans are eligible for benefits under both the VA Disability program and the Social Security Disability program, this isn't true for all claimants. Below are some of the major differences between the VA Disability and Social Security Disability programs. How Disabilities Are Evaluated In the VA Disability program, compensation rates are based on a percentage disability rating. Therefore, if you are partially disabled due to an injury you sustained during active military duty, you will still receive compensation. On the other hand, the Social Security Disability program is all or nothing, so you are considered either disabled or not disabled under the program. That means you are awarded 100% of your benefits or nothing at all. Program Funding The VA Disability program is not considered an insurance program, so it is not funded by taxes that are paid by military personnel. The VA Disability program is funded by a specific VA budget, where as the Social Security Disability program is funded by taxes that workers pay under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and the Self-Employment Contributions Act. Role of Physician In the Social Security Disability program, your treating physician's opinion carries a lot of weight in Social Security's evaluation of your claim. On the other hand, in the VA Disability program, your physician's opinion does not matter as much because no particular evidence is given deference. Claims Process Generally, the process of applying for benefits through the VA Disability program is far less time-consuming and complicated than the process of applying for benefits through the Social Security Disability program. There are several steps one must take in order to file a claim with Social Security and those who fail to have their initial claim approved must file an appeal. If their appeal fails, they have to ask for a hearing. It's not unusual for the whole process to take at least a couple of years. Conversely, the process of applying for benefits through the VA Disability program is fairly simple. First, you need to prove that you are a military veteran who did not leave the military because of a dishonorable discharge. Then, you need to prove that your injuries were sustained during military duty. Once it's determined that you're eligible for benefits, a VA representative will review your records to make a disability rating decision. Does Getting Benefits in One Program Help You Get Benefits in the Other? If you were approved for benefits under the VA Disability program and have a high disability rating, there's a strong likelihood that your Social Security Disability claim will also be successful. If you are approved for benefits under the Social Security Disability program, however, the VA Disability program may not give Social Security's decision much weight since it might not be clear whether the disability is connected to your military service. Nevertheless, you should provide your Social Security Disability File to the VA because it could serve as evidence for your claim. Need to Apply for VA Disability and Social Security Disability? Disability Attorney Louis B. Lusk handles both VA Disability and Social Security Disability claims. If you need assistance applying for benefits, fill out our online contact form to request a free evaluation.