Many Americans who collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) are veterans. Depending upon the nature of the disability, including how and where it occurred, those SSDI recipients may also be eligible for VA benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. If you believe you are eligible to receive both SSDI benefits and VA disability benefits, you are likely concerned about receiving each of these types of benefits payments could affect the other, and whether you need to apply for one type of disability compensation first.

In short, the processes for obtaining disability benefits through the SSA and the VA are separate and distinct, so you will not need to be concerned about your SSDI eligibility affecting your VA disability eligibility or vice versa. Consider some of the following information to understand why.

Qualifications for SSDI Benefits and VA Disability Benefits Are Different

When you believe you have a disabling injury or illness along with a sufficient work history to receive SSDI benefits, you will go through the process of applying for SSDI benefits with the SSA. In order to receive SSDI benefits, as you may already know, you will need to show that you have worked long enough and for a sufficient number of hours to be eligible for SSDI benefits. Generally, workers need 40 credits, with 20 earned over the last 10 years prior to the date of disability, although younger disabled workers may be able to qualify with fewer credits. Work credits are based on income, and you can earn one credit for every $1,510 you earn with a maximum of four credits per year. In addition to your work history, you will need to meet the SSA’s definition of a disability.

To qualify for VA disability benefits, you do not need work credits, and you do not need to meet the SSA’s definition of a disability. Rather, you will prove that you are eligible to receive VA disability benefits by showing that your disabling injury or illness resulted from the military service you did. In fact, while the SSA requires that a person be disabled in a manner that prevents them from engaging in any type of substantial gainful activity (SGA) to qualify for benefits, a person who seeks VA disability benefits can receive payments even with a partial disability that allows them to continue working in some capacity.

Accordingly, the two processes are entirely distinct from one another, and eligibility requirements do not overlap.

Your SSDI Benefits Will Not Impact Your VA Disability Benefits or Vice Versa

Beyond the fact that you will not be proving your eligibility for SSDI benefits in the same way you will for VA disability benefits (and will in fact be submitting completely different applications to two different agencies), your SSDI benefits will not affect the amount of VA disability benefits you receive, or vice versa.

Yet if you do apply for VA disability benefits first and receive a 100 percent disability rating, you may be able to have your SSDI claim fast-tracked through the SSA.

To learn more about applying for disability benefits, you should find an attorney who can assist you.