If you’re a veteran with a 100% disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you may think that you’re automatically eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
After all, you have a permanent and total (P&T) disability rating, that means you can’t work or earn a living due to your service-connected condition.
However, the reality is that many 100% disabled veterans are denied SSDI benefits by the Social Security Administration (SSA) every year.
Why does this happen, and what can you do about it? Here’s what you need to know.
The Difference Between VA and SSA Disability Criteria
The VA uses a percentage system to rate the severity of your service-connected condition, ranging from 0% to 100%. The higher your rating, the more compensation you receive. The VA also considers the combined effects of multiple disabilities, and grants special monthly compensation for certain conditions that affect your quality of life.
The SSA, on the other hand, does not use a percentage system. Instead, the SSA has a strict definition of disability that requires you to prove that you have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that prevents you from engaging in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) for at least 12 months or end in death.
In 2022, for non-blind individuals, you earn more than a certain amount per month, which is $1,310, to define SGA. The SSA also does not consider the combined effect of multiple impairments, unless they are closely related and have a cumulative impact on your ability to work.
Therefore, it is possible that you have a 100% disability rating from the VA, but still be able to perform some kind of work that meets the SSA’s SGA threshold.
How to Appeal a SSDI Denial
If you’re a 100% disabled veteran, and they have denied your SSDI benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision. You have 60 days from the date of the denial letter to request a reconsideration, which is a review of your claim by a different SSA examiner.
You can submit new or additional evidence to support your claim, such as medical records, statements from your doctors, or letters from your employer or co-workers.
Also one can request a copy of your file from the SSA to see what evidence they used to deny your claim.
READ MORE ON HOW TO APPEAL:How Long Does a Disability Appeal Take with a Lawyer?
Tips and Strategies for 100% Disabled Veterans Applying for SSDI Benefits
If you are a 100% disabled veteran and want to apply for SSDI benefits, we provide you with some tips and strategies to increase your chances of success.
- Apply as soon as possible. You can get benefits sooner if you apply early and get approved. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at your local SSA office. You can also use the SSA’s online Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) to see if you may qualify for SSDI benefits before you apply.
- Gather all the evidence you need. You will need to provide proof of your identity, citizenship, military service, work history, income, and medical conditions. You can use your VA disability rating, service records, medical records, treatment notes, test results, and VA disability benefits letter as evidence of your disability.
- Be consistent and honest. Make sure that the information you provide on your application and during the disability determination process is consistent and honest. Any discrepancies or inaccuracies can raise red flags and lead to a denial or a delay of your claim.
- Follow up and cooperate. After you submit your application, you may receive requests for more information or documents from the SSA or the state agency that handles your claim. The SSA may also require you to attend a consultative examination (CE) with a doctor or a psychologist. Make sure that you respond to these requests promptly and cooperate with the SSA and the state agency.
- Seek professional help. Applying for SSDI benefits can be complex and lengthy, especially if you’re a 100% disabled veteran who has faced a denial before. You may benefit from seeking professional help from a disability attorney or a representative who specializes in SSDI claims. A disability attorney or a representative can help you gather and submit the evidence you need.
A 100% disabled veteran does not guarantee qualification for SSDI benefits.
However, it does not mean that you should give up on your claim.
You can appeal the SSA’s decision and fight for the benefits you deserve.
By following the tips and strategies above, you can increase your chances of winning your SSDI claim and securing your financial future.