Understanding The Legal Process

Social Security Or Veterans Disability? It Depends On The Evidence

by Eli Gregory

Many veterans are confused about what benefits they may be entitled to. There are a lot of compensation systems out there for injured people, ranging from workers compensation to social security and even disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Each system has specific benefits and restrictions that may or may not work with each other. As a veteran, consider the Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation system and the Social Security Administration's (SSA) disability for their ability to help you maintain your lifestyle after disability.

Not All Veterans Qualify For Disability

If you're a veteran with a disability, it's reasonable to believe that the VA should be there to help you. The VA provides monetary compensation and medical assistance for veterans who qualify according to the service-connection test.

A service-connected disability is any condition that was caused during military service. Service-connection also covers pre-existing conditions that were made significantly worse due to military service, but such situations may be difficult to prove without direct, documented evidence that was recorded while you were in the military.

Documented evidence during military service is probably the most important weapon in pushing through the VA system. Approval requires the participation in multiple offices as your medical record, current medical examinations and claimed conditions are compared against each other. 

If your condition had nothing to do with the military, the VA isn't going to give you disability. An injury that takes place after your civilian time begins needs to be taken to other relevant systems, such as workers compensation for job-related issues or to a personal injury lawyer for many other situations not related to official duty or employment.

If you're not sure about the condition, put in a claim with the VA anyway. There is no cost, and it's perfectly reasonable to look to the VA as a veteran if you have a mystery condition that doesn't have an obvious cause. Even if you're denied, there's nothing wrong with filing an appeal--although it's wise to have a legal professional at your side to make the process work a bit faster.

Social Security Can Fill The Gaps

The cause of your disability may be in question, but you need to make sure that you're actually considered to be disabled. This may seem silly or insulting to those who are in terrible pain, unable to perform at their best (or even their average), but it's all about documentation.

Consider social security as you look at VA benefits and other support services. You don't have to wait for an answer from other systems before applying for social security services, but you will need to report any income from other successful claims.

VA disability is not affected by income except for in a few specific circumstances with high disability payments. Social security has a wide range of employment exceptions that may allow you to hold a basic job and a certain level of income, but you'll need to gain approval first.

Contact a social security disability attorney to discuss your options with both systems and to find the right way to get the compensation you deserve.