A reader who’s a 100% disabled veteran asked us if it’s possible for him to get Social Security disability benefits. The answer is, yes! And as a 100% disabled veteran, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will speed up your claim review. However, your P&T rating from the VA doesn’t guarantee that you qualify for SSD benefits. We’ll explain everything you should know before you apply below.
Why Does Your 100% P&T Disability Rating Matter When Applying for SSD Benefits?
Firstly, it lets the SSA know that you’re a disabled veteran who already qualifies for VA disability benefits. This means the agency can easily pull your medical records and treatment history electronically, which they’ll initiate as soon as you file. Second, you should identify yourself as such when filling out your application or talking to someone on the phone. If you’re filing your claim online, write “disabled veteran, 100% P&T” in the application’s “remarks” section. Applying through a disability lawyer or on the phone? Be sure to say, “I’m a disabled veteran who’s rated 100% P and T” to the person who’s helping you. Once the agency knows your status, they’ll flag your claim and rush it through the review process. It’s also a good idea to submit a copy of your VA rating notification letter along with your disability application.
Third, most people applying for Social Security disability cannot have more than $1,350 in monthly income from all sources combined. Since you’re a disabled veteran with a 100% P&T rating, your monthly VA benefit payments don’t apply towards that limit. If the SSA approves your disability claim, you can receive both VA and SSD benefit payments each month. However, if you’re still working or receive military pay when you apply, you likely won’t get approved for SSD benefits.
Other Things To Know About Qualifying for SSD As a Disabled Veteran
Unlike the VA, you don’t have to prove your military service is directly responsible for your health issues. And while your diagnosis or symptoms can influence your VA disability amount, the same isn’t true for SSD benefits. Here’s what you need to know about qualifying for SSD benefits as a disabled veteran:
- The SSA uses a completely different set of guidelines for defining “disability.” You must prove your condition will last at least 12 months or should result in your death. Things like pregnancy or joint replacement surgery that last for less than one year don’t qualify for SSD benefits.
- Your health issues must specifically make you unable to work for at least 12 months. If you recently got laid off or your job closed for some reason, that won’t qualify you for SSD benefits. Only working part time or seasonal jobs is also not enough to qualify you for Social Security disability.
- If you haven’t worked recently or enough years to earn 40 Social Security work credits, you won’t qualify. Generally, if you stopped working 60 months ago, you lost your federal disability coverage. The FICA taxes your employer deducts from every paycheck pay your policy premiums. (FICA taxes are the same thing as Social Security taxes.)
- You cannot qualify for SSD if you already get some Social Security benefits or are over regular retirement age. The SSD program helps those unable to work because of health problems access Social Security savings a few years early. If you draw early retirement at 62, you can’t qualify for Social Security disability. If you apply for disability at 65 and your normal retirement age is 66, then you may still qualify. (SSD benefits automatically convert into regular Social Security once that birthday passes.)
How Much Can Disabled Vets Get Paid In SSD Benefits?
Finally, if approved, your disability payments should equal 40% of your average monthly paychecks earned during your work history. The SSA only considers your work history and lifetime earnings when deciding how much SSD money you get. Your symptoms, pain level, number of health issues or age have zero impact on your SSD benefit amount. If you have questions about applying for Social Security disability, you can get free legal advice today over the phone. This free phone call won’t obligate you to do anything else after the attorney answers your disability claim questions. In addition, you should know that having a lawyer file your paperwork nearly triples your chances for SSD approval.
Related: How to Apply for Disability Benefits
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.