People often think that they can’t receive both VA disability and Social Security disability benefits at the same time but that’s not true. Getting VA disability benefits for a service-related injury or health condition doesn’t mean that you can’t qualify for Social Security disability benefits. In fact, in the past veterans with a high VA disability rating had an easier time getting approved for Social Security benefits. That’s no longer the case, the Social Security Administration doesn’t consider the VA’s ruling when determining approval anymore. But you can receive both VA disability and Social Security disability benefits at the same time if you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Medically Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
You can receive Social Security disability benefits if you can prove that you meet the listing requirements for a condition in the official Social Security Blue Book. Each listing contains a unique set of requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for disability benefits. You will need to submit proof that you meet those requirements. However, the VA now shares medical records electronically with the Social Security Administration so you can submit your medical records easily online and don’t need to submit paper copies of your medical records with your claim for disability benefits. Some of the most common conditions that affect veterans that are listed in the Blue Book include:
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Back disorders
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
Submitting your medical records electronically can make the process of filing a claim a lot faster and smoother. But you can still submit paper copies of your medical records if you want to. You should have gotten a paper copy of all of your VA medical records when you got your VA rating sheet. You can get a copy at the last military treatment facility where you were seen if you need a new paper copy of your medical records.
Medical Vocational Allowance
If you have a medical condition that makes it impossible to work but you don’t meet the strict criteria listed in the Blue Book you can ask for a medical vocational allowance. To get this you need to file a claim for disability benefits and ask for a residual functional capacity evaluation. The SSA will perform this evaluation to see if there is any kind of full-time work that you can reasonably be expected to do. If they find that there is no work you can do with your symptoms or condition then you still can qualify for disability benefits even if you don’t meet the exact Blue Book requirements. Your VA medical records can help prove that your condition makes it impossible for you to work.
Starting the Claim Process
You shouldn’t wait to file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. You can apply online at any time, or if you need help with the claim or have questions you can make an appointment at your local SSA office. A staff member there can help you with the claim process.
Blue Book Description: https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/social-security-blue-book
Blue Book listing for Mental Disorders: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm
Medical Vocational Allowance: https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/medical-vocational-allowance
Local SSA Office: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp