VA and SSA Disability: Different or the Same?

Veterans Affairs (VA) and Social Security Administration (SSA) Disability Benefits in Massachusetts

The disability lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates recover VA and SSDI benefits in Massachusetts for brave men and women wounded during military service. For over 25 years, we have worked closely with wounded warriors to recover both service and employment-related benefits. Our firm is honored to represent valiant veterans in Plymouth, Boston, the Merrimack River area, and other communities throughout the state.

VA vs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits

Military service members who have worked 5 of the last 10 years are entitled to both VA and SSDI for service-related disabilities. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and SSA both allocate federal funds based on a documented disability or non-service related need (supplemental security income or VA pension). But VA and SSDI benefits differ substantially under the United States Code (U.S.C.) and Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L.). The primary distinctions between the two classes of disability include:

  • VA recipients eligible with partial disability rating; SSDI requires total disability
  • VA compensation rating can be 0% for proving service-related disability
  • VA recognizes potential deterioration of condition into compensable SSDI disability
  • Treating Physician Rule: Opinion of VA doctor not given same deference as in SSDI
  • High VA disability rating helps recovery of SSDI benefits based on prior work finding
  • VA disability rating must be based on entire file, not certain pieces of medical evidence
  • However, SSA approval does not necessarily guarantee VA benefits if not service-related disability; VA requires connecting unemployment to service-related disorder
  • Nevertheless, VA should give entire SSA file “appropriate consideration” and weight
  • Conversely, VA disability rating entitled to “substantial weight” in SSA decision because evidence demonstrates degree of disability and mental or physical impairment

38 U.S.C. Chapter 11 sets forth compensation for service-connected disability or death. Subsequent sections provide benefits for dependency and indemnity (§ 1301); medical expenses (§ 1787); homeless veterans (§ 2066); children and spouses (§ 1834); and specially-adapted housing costs incurred by disabled veterans (§ 2109). Under M.G.L. c.132, veterans are also entitled to certain tax exemptions, tuition waivers, and employment and training services. But 38 U.S.C. § 1110 prohibits an award of benefits if the injury was caused by the veteran’s own substance abuse or if the veteran was discharged under conditions “other than dishonorable.”

VA Disability Compensation

Veterans with service-connected disabilities may be entitled to over $3,100 in monthly benefits, depending on the level of injury sustained during active service and the number of dependents. Additional payment is awarded to veterans who have sustained severe disabilities or loss of limb. Further, veterans can receive expedited processing of their SSDI claims from SSA if they became disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs. Active duty status also does not bar veterans from receiving SSDI unless SSA finds that the service member engages in substantial work activity for pay or profit.

Obtaining VA and SSDI Benefits

If you are a veteran applying for VA or SSDI benefits, the Massachusetts disability benefits attorneys of Kantrovitz & Associates can help. We have maximized VA and SSA compensation for numerous military service members, regardless of their disability rating. From proving a compensable injury to relating present impairments to past service, we have over 25 years of experience expediting payment to veterans in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Call (800) 367-0871 today for a free consultation or contact us online.