Does Military Pay Impact Eligibility for Social Security Benefits?

three men of varying ages standing next to each other wearing military uniforms
Apr 29, 2021 | Sara Khaki

For many families, obtaining Social Security benefits often means the difference between making financial ends meet. However, current and former members of the US military often wonder whether receiving pay, pensions, or disability compensation from the VA will impact their eligibility for Social Security benefits.

Whether or not military benefits such as these will impact a former servicemember’s ability to qualify depends on the type of Social Security benefits for which they are applying. While receiving military pay will not impact a veteran’s eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it can affect a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. One of our experienced advocates for the disabled can provide more insight on these crucial differences.

Which Forms of Military Pay Can Affect Social Security Benefits?

One of the important things to consider when applying for Social Security disability benefits is your current level of income. For current and former members of the military, income can come from several sources. Servicemembers on active duty may be drawing regular pay, regardless of whether they are deployed. They may also receive money in the form of a pension after 20 years or more of service.

Veterans may receive monthly benefits through a VA disability program. Being classified as disabled by the VA does not guarantee approval for benefits by the Social Security Administration (SSA), but it does grant veterans expedited claims processing.

Effects of Military Pay on Social Security Eligibility

While both Social Security programs require proof of a disabling condition, they differ in asset and income requirements. SSDI is only awarded to applicants who can successfully prove that they are unable to maintain gainful employment because of a medically identifiable impairment and who have a sufficient number of work credits. This means that your current earnings would not be counted against your eligibility for SSDI benefits.

Alternatively, SSI does impose income requirements. Specifically, SSI applicants cannot earn more than $1310 per month or have more than $2,000 in disposable assets ($3,000 for married applicants). Receiving any form of payment from the military could make a veteran or current servicemember ineligible for SSI payments. Our Social Security disability law firm can help current and former servicemembers understand the differences between these two programs and help them determine their eligibility for either type of benefit.

Ask an Attorney about How Receiving Military Pay Can Adversely Affect Claims for Social Security Benefits

Serving in one of the branches of the US military comes with many benefits. For some veterans, this can include pensions as well as disability compensation from the VA. For individuals on active duty, this includes receiving a regular paycheck.

These payments may make you ineligible to receive certain Social Security disability benefits. While this pay will not affect an SSDI claim, it may adversely impact your eligibility for SSI benefits. Talking with an experienced disability advocate can help you better understand this concept and determine which Social Security program is right for you.


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