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VA vs. SSA Disability Benefit

See what you can qualify for as we answer your questions about the VA and SSA Disability Benefits and how to apply!

The Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) both offer disability benefits to those who qualify according to their criteria. The qualifications necessary to apply differ for each administration and, therefore, must be dealt with separately. In this article, we will discuss how to apply for each administration’s disability benefits if you fit the criteria as well as compare them for a more complete understanding! 

SSA Disability Insurance Benefits

Under the Social Security Act, “disabled” means an individual must show inability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a medically determinable impairment (physical or mental) that can be expected to result in death OR has lasted/expected to last at least twelve months. This definition fluctuates depending on the amount of monthly earnings that is considered SGA at a given time. 

How To Apply:

  1. Gather all information and documents needed
  2. Complete and submit application
  3. SSA reviews application to ensure it meets basic requirements
  4. SSA checks if you worked enough years to qualify
  5. SSA evaluates any current work activities
  6. Processed application is forwarded to Disability Determination Services
  7. State agency makes a decision

*May request additional documents at anytime to supplement your application

VA Disability Compensation Benefits

In order to qualify for VA Disability Benefits, a Veteran must show a service connected disabling condition that was either incurred or aggravated by military service. These disability benefits are paid on a graduated rating scale based on your degree of disability. Your rating can change over time based on your condition; however, your rating cannot change based on your earnings. 

How to Submit a Claim:

  1. Gather any evidence to submit that shows your disability has worsened (ex. VA or private medical records, supporting statements from family or friends)

 *They will also review your discharge papers and service treatment records

  1. Can file the claim by mail or in person
  2. Wait for the decision (Average wait time is 142.8 days)

VA vs. SSA Disability Benefits

To ensure you have a thorough understanding of the disability benefits offered by these administrations, we must make a comparison between the two. The main similarity between the VA and SSA Disability coverage is that neither allows for your disability pay amount to be affected by the other program. 

The main differences between the two disability benefit programs are the following:

  1. The VA disability coverage offers partial payments based on a scale of disability, while the SSA provides all or nothing payments.
  2. The SSA requires that your disabling condition has lasted at least twelve months or will result in death, while the VA requires that the injury/illness is due to military service. 
  3. The SSA also includes in their criterion that your impairment must prevent ability to work at SGA and that your age, education level, and work history cannot affect your eligibility. 

Please visit the following source for more information: 64-125 – Social Security Disability and Veterans Affairs – How they compare? (