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What Veterans Should Know About Filing for Social Security Disability

Typically at some point, disabled veterans will have to deal with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Why? Because disabled veterans are able to collect both disability and veteran disability benefits simultaneously. However, both the social security disability and veteran disability systems are very different from one another. Here’s what you need to know about both systems.


Social Security Disability System

When it comes to social security disability benefits, the person who applies for benefits will apply at their local social security office or online and most often will receive a response regarding a decision within three to four months. Then a disability examiner who puts together the applicant’s records will consult with a medical professional (in the form of a doctor or psychiatrist) assigned to the examiner’s unit to decide whether or not the claim should be approved.

Unfortunately, most often than not, the disability examiner and the medical professional will come to a denial decision (more on that in a second), but if the claim is approved, the applicant will be deemed 100% disabled and then receive social security disability insurance (SSDI) payments according to what they were paid at their previous job or social security insurance payments (SSI) according to their current income.

When a claim is denied, the applicant can go through the appeal process and receive a reconsideration, or a review of their case. This wait for this procedure usually takes a very long time and involves a hearing, which can also result in a considerable amount of wait time, especially if you live in a specific portion of the United States and there’s a backlog of cases. All in all, it may take a year or longer before you have your hearing date.


Veteran Disability Benefits System

So what about the veteran disability benefits system? How is it different from the SSA? Strangely enough one of the main differences between the two systems involves percentages.

Remember how we mentioned that with the social security system an applicant can be deemed 100% disabled? Well, when it comes to the VA system, they will deem a veteran a percentage of disabled and produce financial benefits according to that percentage. For example, a veteran might be deemed 10, 20 or 50% disabled. This is different from social security in that you are either disabled or you are not disabled.

Another difference when it comes to the VA system is that the weight of a physician’s record is not as much as that in the SSA system. With the VA system, they try to look at the entire file, instead of placing emphasis on the medical professional’s point of view.

disabled veteran in wheelchair in front of American flag

Veterans Applying for Both

Since veterans most often apply for both social security and VA benefits at the same time, one thing they need to remember when it comes to applications is to always make duplicate copies, as the SSA is known for not keeping these records as closely guarded as they should.

Another thing that veterans should remember regarding the application process is to obtain your medical records yourself to send to the SSA, as the VA has a bad reputation of not being able to provide an applicant’s records to the SSA.

Some people have asked whether having SSA benefits can help you get VA benefits and the answer is possibly, but probably not. With VA benefits, a veteran needs to prove that they are unable to work due to service-related injuries. While the SSA doesn’t look at VA records, the VA does consider the SSA’s social security benefits decision. Often, medical records in a SSA file can support elements of a VA file, and furthermore, even the VA has a duty to put forth the records in order to provide all of the possible evidence to support someone’s disability benefits.


The Need for an Attorney

When it comes to social security and disability benefits, there’s generally one rule of thumb to follow when it comes to securing attorneys. If you apply for SSDI and are denied benefits, your best bet for claim approval is to hire an attorney because they will know the ins and outs of the process and know how to go about getting approval. One of the win-wins of this situation is that the attorney works on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid when you receive your financial benefits (see why it’s a win-win?). That’s one thing that not many SSA applicants know about the process of applying for social security disability insurance. Contact the Lowery Law Group to help you with your case today!