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Veterans and Social Security and SSI Disability Benefits

People in the military who become disabled are covered by the Veterans Administration’s medical and pension program, and also by the Social Security disability system. They receive the same Social Security retirement, survivors and disability benefits as every other taxpaying citizen. Veterans may qualify for Social Security and SSI disability benefits.

Many care providers are not aware of this dual coverage called “concurrent eligibility.” If a patient or client is already receiving VA benefits, it may appear that everything is complete. In fact, the disabled person may be missing an entire set of benefits and medical coverage. Even VA staff and vet groups sometimes seem to be unaware of the Social Security coverage. The standards for disability are nearly identical, although procedures, eligibility and benefit levels vary.

Because both the VA and SSA are experiencing unprecedented backlogs, gaps in medical care and compensation make it important for a vet to apply for everything earned by serving the country.

There are sometimes offsets in benefits between the VA and SSA, but in many cases, veterans are eligible to receive both service-connected compensation and Social Security disability benefits without any reductions. A favorable decision in one is sometimes helpful evidence for the other claim. Social Security requires proof of total disability, the inability to perform any full-time work.

A vet may be eligible for one of two disability program benefits through the Veterans Administration. First, if there is a service-connected mental or physical disability, a veteran may be eligible for compensation, even if the disability is partial. This type of benefit payment is paid regardless of financial status, resources and income.

A second VA program pays benefits to disabled veterans whose disability is not service-connected. In order to receive this pension, the veteran must have served in active duty during a period of war, and must have a total and permanent disability.


This pension is income-scaled, which means that the veteran may not qualify for both this VA pension and Social Security disability.

There are some legislative presumptions that help veterans win their VA cases. For example, if someone who served in Vietnam during the war is diagnosed with diabetes, and has at least a 10% disability rating, it is presumed that the diabetes is service-connected.

We can consult with you to determine if you are a vet and may eligible for Social Security or disability benefits. Please contact us if we can help you.

Further Resources:

Benefits Home – US Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration is an organizational element of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors – The Department of Veterans Affairs most popular publication, the Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors booklet provides brief descriptions of benefits.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs -The US Department of Veterans Affairs provides patient care and federal benefits to veterans and their dependents.

SSA site – publication about Veteran benefits.

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