Does Receiving VA Benefits Affect My Ability to Collect Social Security Benefits?

elderly man sitting at bench and looking down
Mar 30, 2021 | Sara Khaki

If you are receiving VA benefits for a disability that occurred during your active duty military service, you may also qualify for other benefits through the Social Security Administration. While receiving VA benefits does not necessarily prevent you from qualifying for Social Security disability benefits each month, it could impact the amount of monthly compensation you are eligible to receive.

Specifically, disability benefits programs that are needs-based, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) could be impacted by VA disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), on the other hand is not needs-based, meaning the amount of benefits offered by the VA will not affect a disabled veteran’s eligibility. Talk to a member of our legal team to learn more about how receiving VA benefits could affect your ability to collect Social Security benefits.

Social Security vs. Veterans’ Disability Benefits

Benefits offered through the VA and those paid by the Social Security Administration could have a dramatic impact on the life of a disabled veteran. However, the amount of benefits available through each program could differ significantly. For instance, a veteran could obtain VA benefits even if they are not totally disabled. Even a partial disability rating as low as 10 percent could still qualify for some degree of VA disability benefits each month.

Partial disabilities are often not severe enough to prevent a veteran from working, however, making many partially disabled former servicemembers ineligible for SSDI benefits. This is because SSDI benefits are only available to individuals who cannot maintain gainful employment because of a physical, psychological, or cognitive impairment.

Neither VA nor SSDI disability benefits have an income requirement, meaning any income a veteran earns from pensions, investments, or other governmental benefits would not be counted against their eligibility for either disability program. SSI, however, does have an income limit, so receiving VA benefits could limit the amount of available benefits or even result in a denied SSI claim. SSI is only intended for low-income applicants who are in need of financial assistance. The higher an applicant’s VA benefit amount is, the more likely they are to be denied SSI benefits.

Changes in Treatment of Disabled Vets Receiving VA Benefits

Previously, a high disability rating from the VA could help an applicant obtain benefits through the Social Security Administration. In 2017, the federal government issued new regulations announcing that it would no longer give significant weight to VA disability ratings when considering whether someone is eligible for SSDI/SSI benefits.

Ask an Attorney if Receiving VA Benefits Affects Your Ability to Collect Social Security Benefits

If you are a disabled veteran, you could be entitled to benefits through both the VA and the Social Security Administration. That being said, the full amount of benefits you are entitled to could differ significantly between each disability program. An experienced disability representative can advise you on whether receiving VA benefits could impact your access to SSI or SSDI. Call now to set up a private consultation with a member of our team.

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