How a Veteran Can Qualify for Social Security Disability


This week’s submission is an informational posting by Eric Minghella,  Outreach Specialist -Disability Benefits Help

How a Veteran Can Qualify for Social Security Disability

If you currently receive VA disability benefits, you may also be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The best news is that Social Security disability and VA disability do not usually affect one another. While both Social Security and VA disability are offered by branches of the US government, qualification for each program will vary.

Differences Between VA Disability and Social Security

The biggest difference between VA disability and Social Security disability benefits is Social Security won’t be awarded on a sliding scale. Some veterans can receive benefits for a 10% disability, but this isn’t the case for Social Security disability recipients. To be eligible for Social Security, you must be completely unable to work and earn more than $1,180 per month. This usually means veterans who have a disability rating of 70% or more will be eligible.

Another difference between VA disability and Social Security is it doesn’t matter when you became disabled to qualify for Social Security disability. This gives veterans with a lower disability rating a better chance of qualifying for benefits. For example, if you have a 20% disability rating from the VA but you were diagnosed with cancer one year after returning to civilian life, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits. The only thing to keep in mind is that everyone receiving Social Security disability must have worked any five of the last 10 years, meaning you should apply for Social Security as soon as you’re unable to work.


Expedited Claims for Veterans

The SSA will expedite claims for some veterans. If you have a 100% P&T disability rating, or if you have an active duty injury on or after October 2, 2003, you will have your claim expedited and could be approved in as little as 10 days. All you’ll need to do is mark your status as a veteran on the “Notes” page on the Social Security disability application (this should be found on the last page).

Starting Your Application

The easiest way to apply for disability benefits is online from the comfort of your own home. If you’d prefer, you can also apply in person at your closest SSA office. Call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to schedule your appointment to apply online.

Keep in mind that if you’ve recently become disabled, you should always try to apply for VA disability before SSA disability. A VA disability approval will go a long way in helping a Social Security approval, but the same does not go both ways because VA disability is only for veterans who were injured during active duty. You should hear back from the SSA within five months, but again, many veterans will qualify for expedited benefits.

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About Eric Minghella

Eric Minghella serves as an Outreach Specialist -Disability Benefits Help and can be reached at