Can You Receive VA Disability and Social Security?

Can You Receive VA Disability and Social Security?

Many disabled Veterans receive Social Security Disability benefits or VA disability compensation, but not both. They might mistakenly think that they have to pick between either program.

In truth, you could potentially take advantage of both Social Security and VA disability benefits at the same time.

Not sure where to start? Read on for more information about recovering Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and VA benefits as a disabled Veteran who can no longer work.


What Is the Social Security Disability Insurance Program?

Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is a disability payment program awarded to individuals who can’t work because they have one or more severe, debilitating medical conditions. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) similarly provides benefits to those with a qualifying disability, who are blind, or who are over the age of 65. Both programs are offered through the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, these programs differ in terms of their work-related requirements.

Specifically with SSDI, disabled individuals have to be affected by conditions that are expected to last for one year or eventually result in death, preventing them from maintaining a job with sufficient income.

It’s a strict program in terms of who qualifies for benefits. However, you receive the full payout if you qualify for SSDI payments. This stands in contrast to VA disability benefits, which are awarded on a scale based on the disability rating each Veteran receives from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income does not impact SSDI or Department of Veterans Affairs benefits eligibility.

Who Qualifies for SSDI?

Since SSDI is a Social Security-based program, only some individuals qualify for these Veteran’s benefits. Specifically, applicants must have:

  • Worked in jobs that Social Security covered
  • At least one medical condition that meets the strict definition of disability according to the Social Security Administration

By working a job covered by Social Security, you automatically pay into the Social Security program. This allows you to take money out of the program when necessary, such as through the Social Security Disability program.

SSDI benefits continue until an individual can work regularly or until they are deceased. Furthermore, the SSDI includes and offers work incentives, special benefits, and healthcare coverage to assist disabled individuals transitioning back to the workplace.

If an individual receives SSDI benefits for reaching full retirement age, the disability benefits convert into retirement benefits (with the amount staying the same) once they reach retirement age.

During the disability application process for disability claims, you’ll have to prove your impairments to get the benefit amount.

What Are VA Disability Benefits?

VA disability benefits are compensation awards given to Veterans who are injured or disabled because of their military duty.

For example, if a Veteran receives a combat wound that prevents them from walking for the rest of their life, they will receive disability benefits for the rest of their life as well.

VA disability benefits are only awarded to Veterans who receive service connections from the VA – these connections are proven by gathering and submitting medical records, military records, and supplementary materials.

VA disability benefits are also awarded according to a Veteran’s disability rating, ranging from 0% to 100%. The more disabling a Veteran’s condition or injury is, the greater the disability compensation rating they receive and the more benefits they receive each month.

If you prove a service-connected disability from active duty events, access to your monthly benefit and other benefits programs will kick in immediately.

What Are the Differences Between Social Security Disability and VA Benefits?

Although SSDI and VA disability benefits are intended to compensate disabled individuals – primarily by helping them pay for medical bills or everyday expenses if they cannot work – there are some key differences between them.

  • VA disability benefits are only awarded to Veterans who received an injury or illness during (or whose injury or illness is aggravated by) their military service. SSDI benefits are awarded to anyone who is sufficiently disabled or injured, regardless of the injury’s cause
  • VA disability benefits do not require that a Veteran’s disability prevents them from working at a substantially gainful activity level. SSDI benefits are only awarded if you can’t work or acquire income because of partial disability or total disability
  • VA disability benefits may be awarded immediately, then reduced or removed if your condition improves or heals. SSDI benefits are only awarded if your disabling condition is expected to last for 12 months or result in your death.
  • Your age, education, and work history do not affect VA disability benefits, but they do affect your SSDI benefits (since the latter is tied into the broader Social Security program)
  • VA disability benefits offer partial payments up to a maximum based on your level of disability. In contrast, SSDI benefits are “all or nothing.” 

Can You Receive SSDI Benefits and VA Benefits at the Same Time?

Yes. Although many Veterans believe they are only eligible for VA disability benefits, they may simultaneously qualify for SSDI and VA benefits.

The VA may pay both of these programs to the same individual simultaneously. They aren’t affected by each other and are funded by different federal programs. As a result, you can and should apply for both if you think you qualify.

Note that you must apply for both SSDI and VA disability benefits separately. If you already qualify for VA disability benefits, that doesn’t necessarily mean you qualify for SSDI benefits or vice versa.

Do VA Benefits Affect SSI Payments?

Yes. SSI benefits are need-based, meaning people only receive Social Security Insurance (SSI) benefits if they don’t make enough income to pay for everyday expenses otherwise.

Therefore, if you have any regular income from VA benefits, those benefits count as meaningful income to the SSI program. While you might qualify for SSI, any benefits you receive from the VA will be deducted from your SSI federal payment amount. Additionally, SSI benefits can be impacted by your spouse’s income if you are married, meaning that his or her resources could affect your eligibility for this program.

Because of these factors, it’s best to only apply for SSDI and VA disability benefits rather than applying for SSI benefits if you are a disabled Veteran.

If I Receive State Disability Compensation, Do I Qualify for SSDI or VA Benefits?

Receiving state disability benefits doesn’t mean that you automatically qualify for SSDI, SSI, or VA benefits. As we’ve explained, these programs serve unique functions and operate on individual criteria through their respective programs. Therefore, you will need to apply for said benefits individually.

What Happens to my VA Disability Benefits When I Turn 65?

Your VA benefits are not based on age, but on the severity of your disability, as determined by your VA rating. Therefore, your VA disability benefits will not go away automatically once you reach 65 and become eligible for Medicare or SSDI. These programs function independently and have their own criteria for eligibility, meaning that it is entirely possible and even recommended to receive both.

Berry Law.

What Is an Example of Receiving SSDI and VA Benefits Together?

Say that you are a disabled Veteran and receive partial VA benefits totaling $400 per month. Since you worked a job that qualified under the Social Security system and paid into the system for many years, you receive an additional $900 in SSDI benefits.

 $400 plus $900 equals $1,300 per month from both programs combined.

For many Veterans, this can be quite a substantial improvement in quality of life and financial stability. If you or a loved one need assistance applying for VA benefits or if you already receive SSDI benefits, contact knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys right away.

Do You Automatically Receive SSDI Benefits If You Have VA Benefits?

No. You don’t automatically receive SSDI benefits if you receive VA benefits. You have to apply to both programs separately.

Suppose you already receive SSDI benefits because you were disabled or developed a disabling condition after leaving the military. Upon further investigation, however, you discover that an event probably caused your disabling condition during your military service–might also qualify for VA disability benefits. The VA will not give you these benefits automatically, however. To solve this issue, you keep receiving your SSDI benefits and apply for VA disability benefits with the help of attorneys like those at Berry Law.

With the right application, you could receive monthly payments from both programs.

Can You Qualify for Other Social Security Benefits if You Receive Other VA Benefits?

The VA doesn’t just provide disability benefits to disabled Veterans. It also offers benefits for Veterans in terms of tuition assistance, work placement assistance, and much more. It even assists the dependents of Veterans, like children or spouses.

Social Security offers other benefits like survivor, retirement, and Medicare benefits. Under certain circumstances, you may qualify for these benefits with your VA benefits. Veterans may claim only some benefits from both programs for the same purpose.

For instance, you may qualify for tuition assistance via the VA and Medicare benefits from Social Security, but not the reverse. This can get complex, so we recommend contacting experienced Veterans law attorneys if you have questions regarding which benefits package you should choose.

Contact Berry Law

If you believe you qualify for both Social Security and VA disability benefits, Berry Law may be able to help. Our knowledgeable lawyers know the ins and outs of the VA benefits program. They can ensure that you receive the highest VA disability rating possible to maximize your benefits from that program.

That way, once you apply for SSDI benefits, you’ll receive two monthly paychecks with maximum compensation. Don’t wait – contact Berry Law today for a free consultation and to learn more.

John S. Berry, , Attorney for VA Disability
John S. Berry, , VA Disability Lawyer


VA Disability Compensation |

Qualifying | Disability Benefits | SSA

Information for Military & Veterans | SSA

Can I Collect Both SSDI and VA Disability Compensation? | AARP

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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