Today, we’re answering a question from a reader who writes: “I’m a veteran with a 70% disability rating from the VA. Can I apply for any other disability benefits?” Yes! Disabled veterans can apply for other disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). While there’s no guarantee you’ll qualify, veterans like you with a rating of 70% should definitely consider applying.
What Kind of Disability Benefits Can Disabled Veterans Apply For?
In addition to benefits you receive from the Veterans Administration (VA), the SSA offers benefits to qualified disabled veterans through two different federal programs:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to you and certain family members if you have worked long enough, and recently enough, and paid Social Security taxes on your income.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays benefits to veterans with limited income and resources.
This is where it gets tricky. The SSA and VA each has their own definition of “disability.” Even if you get disability benefits from the VA, your health issues might not qualify you for benefits from SSDI or SSI. That’s because disabled veterans also need sufficient work credits in order to qualify for those payments. The agency does, however, study the evidence the VA used to come up with its determination. Learn more about how the SSA determines disability.
Things also get a little more complicated if you’re over 65. At this point, any Social Security disability benefits usually switch over to Social Security retirement benefits. It’s possible to delay this switch if you decide to keep working after turning 65. An attorney can help you figure out which solution is best for you and then guide you through the process.
Do I Need an Attorney to File a Disability Claim?
Because SSI and SSDI benefits are more difficult to get these days than they used to be, using an attorney is a smart idea.
A lawyer who understands the system can be very useful, especially if they’re VA-accredited. The VA designed their entire accreditation program for preparing, presenting, and prosecuting claims before the VA.
Are There Free Lawyers for Disabled Veterans?
Yes, free legal services are available to veterans in two ways:
- Free legal clinics sponsored by the VA
- Independent attorneys who offer pro-bono and paid legal services specifically for veterans
The words spoken by Harry Truman in 1945 are still true: “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude.”
And while the debt can never be repaid, channels exist to ensure that certain financial, medical, and legal resources are available to our disabled veterans.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online veterans benefits evaluation now!
Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a content marketing agency based in North Carolina that provides services for international healthcare brands, tech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.