How to Qualify For SSDI While Receiving VA Benefits
The objective behind VA benefits is to provide a monthly income supplement in proportion to a veteran’s disability. But in case of a more severe disability, a veteran may need additional financial support. In these situations, veterans should consider the option of Social Security disability. It is possible for a veteran to qualify for SSDI (Social Security disability insurance) while receiving VA benefits.
It is important to understand that VA disability benefits (or service-related disability compensation) are an award based on disability, and not based on income. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a veteran to receive both SSDI and VA disability compensation at the same time.
Requirements of SSDI are somewhat different from that of VA benefits. Some of the notable differences are as follows:
- While VA benefits are determined on a percentage basis, SSDI is only awarded if you qualify as permanently and totally disabled. (This is equivalent to a VA rating of 70 percent or above.)
- Only disabled veterans are eligible to receive VA benefits, but the SSDI program of the federal government is open to all Americans with disabilities who need financial assistance. This makes the SSDI program slightly tougher when it comes to determining who may or may not qualify.
- Medical professionals designated for the VA disability program will determine the disability. However, this is not feasible in case of SSDI, considering it covers the national population. Therefore, SSDI requires applicants to furnish specific certified evidence of their disability when seeking this benefit.
How to Know Whether You May Qualify for SSDI?
The Blue Book available on the primary website of SSA is an official resource that could explain whether your disability condition qualifies for SSDI. All the requirements and conditions that will be needed for qualifying are listed in it. The Blue Book contains separate sections related to different disability conditions.
It can sometimes be difficult to accurately interpret from the Blue Book whether you qualify for SSDI, and under which medical category. It may be best to consult with a doctor for your medical records and updated tests to determine your qualifications or make your application with the guidance and advice of an experienced disability claims attorney.
Higher Chances of Qualifying
The chances of qualifying for SSDI will increase if you have a VA rating of at least 70 percent. This rating signifies that you have already been recognized by the Veterans Association (a separate government program) as a severely disabled veteran who is unable to work, which will support your case for additional benefits.
Military Pay will not Impact Eligibility
In most cases, an SSDI beneficiary is barred from earning any income through work as that could disqualify them from receiving disability benefits. But if a veteran is receiving military pay for rendering non-work services, it will not disqualify them from SSDI.
VA Disability Pension Could be Affected
VA disability benefits or pension, or DOD disability benefits will not affect SSDI, which means you can continue to receive these benefits simultaneously. However, when you start receiving SSDI, it may affect VA disability pension because this benefit is based on need. In this case, your other income is considered to determine your overall financial need.
Disability Determination Services (DDS) in Alabama
According to the rules on Social Security, Alabama’s DDS agency is the authority that will decide on your disability. Once you have completed the initial application, any further questions on your case will be addressed by DDS offices in Birmingham and Mobile.
Alabama’s Disability Appeals Process
In October 2019, Alabama added a new step called “reconsideration” to the appeals process. Now the appeals process in the state includes 4 steps as follows:
Step #1: Request for Reconsideration
Following the denial of your initial application by DDS, you can file a request that your claim must be reviewed by a different claim examiner at the DDS office.
Step #2: ALJ Hearing
At this hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will look at any new evidence and review the original decision of Alabama DDS.
Step #3: Appeals Council
Your case will only be heard by the Appeals Council if it determines that it was decided on the basis of incorrect law or procedures.
Step #4: Federal Court
If the Appeals Council chooses not to hear your claim or denies it, you have right to bring your case to Alabama’s federal court.
Consult with an Experienced Disability Attorney in Alabama
To file an application for SSD benefits in Alabama or to fight a denial of your claim, you should contact Walton Law, LLC for strong legal advice and support. For more than 15 years, Attorney Randy Walton has been helping people obtain SSD and SSI benefits in Alabama. Call 251-455-5819 or message us online to schedule a free consultation.