Social Security Disabled Veterans Rates

As a military veteran with a service-connected disability, you may qualify for VA disability benefits even if your condition doesn’t prevent you from working in the future. However, some military veterans with debilitating injuries or illnesses that prevent them from working may also qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, in addition to their VA disability benefits.

Key Takeaways
  • Veterans with service-connected disabilities may qualify for both VA disability benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), with SSDI requiring a separate application and evaluation process.
  • SSDI for disabled veterans offers a binary rating system (0% or 100%), unlike the VA’s proportional scale, and requires a complete inability to work for eligibility.
  • The SSDI benefits amount depends on previous earnings, with the maximum benefit for 2024 being $3,822 per month, and may include additional benefits like Medicare and survivor’s benefits.

For VA benefits, the VA uses a disability rating system on a proportional scale, which allows prior service members to receive a monthly benefit based on the severity of their condition. However, Social Security disabled veterans “rates” are either 0 percent or 100 percent—there is no in-between. If you don’t meet all of the criteria for SSDI, you’ll receive a complete denial for any benefits.

Veterans Guide helps disabled veterans understand the benefits available to them and can connect you with an SSDI attorney to answer your questions.

How Much Do Veterans Get for SSDI at Different Rating Levels?

Military veterans with a service-connected disability can apply for VA benefits, which provide monthly compensation depending on your disability rating. You can start receiving a monthly VA disability check if you receive a 10 percent disability rating or higher. The greater your disability rating is, the more your VA disability compensation will be.

However, veterans who apply for SSDI on top of their VA benefits will find that the VA rating system doesn’t apply to the SSDI benefits. While the Social Security Administration and their state agencies will consider your medical records, including your VA disability rating, simply receiving VA disability benefits doesn’t automatically entitle you to SSDI benefits. Instead, you’ll need to meet specific criteria, including a complete inability to hold gainful employment due to your medical condition. 

Someone with a 100 percent VA disability rating may find it easier to qualify for SSDI benefits simply because their disability may prevent them from working. The average SSDI benefit for a veteran age 61 or younger is $1,512. The maximum benefit for SSDI in 2023 is $3,627 and increases to $3,822 in 2024

What Is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, provides monthly benefits for disabled people who cannot work due to medical conditions. The Social Security Administration oversees the SSDI program.

SSDI is separate from VA disability benefits, and the application process differs. Obtaining a VA disability rating doesn’t mean you’ll start receiving SSDI benefits, too. Instead, you must submit an application for SSDI benefits that meets the program’s requirements. If you’re approved, you’ll begin receiving SSDI benefits in addition to your VA benefit compensation. 

Another program disabled veterans can apply for is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. SSI is a need-based program through which you can receive additional monthly compensation if your medical condition prevents you from working. Unlike SSDI, the Social Security Administration factors any VA disability benefits you receive in its decision-making process. If your VA disability benefits or wages put you over the financial limitations of the SSI program, the SSA will deny your SSI benefits claim.

Who Qualifies for SSDI?

To qualify for SSDI, you must meet two basic requirements:

SSDI is essentially an insurance program funded through payroll taxes deducted from workers’ paychecks. You must have paid a certain amount into the program, measured as “credits,” to qualify for benefits.  You earn a work credit for every quarter your wages or self-employment income exceeds a specific amount, which changes yearly. You must typically accrue at least 40 Social Security work credits to qualify for disability benefits, with 20 of those credits accrued in the 10 years before the onset of your disability. However, if you don’t have 40 Social Security work credits, you may still qualify in some circumstances.

The Social Security Administration will consider the severity of your disability and its impact on your ability to hold a job. It will also consider whether you have education, experience, or transferable skills you can use in another occupation. For instance, if you lost your leg during a military accident that prevented you from returning to a manual labor job, you could still perform office work if you have the skills. 

Remember, being eligible for VA disability benefits doesn’t mean you’re automatically entitled to SSDI benefits, too. The two agencies process disability benefit claims using different criteria.

What SSDI Benefits Are Available to Veterans?

If you’re approved for SSDI benefits, you may receive all of the following:

The benefit amount you may be eligible for will depend on your average earnings from your work credits. Most people don’t receive the maximum SSDI benefit amount. In fact, the average SSDI benefit for a veteran under age 62 is $1,512. 

Even for veterans with a 100% rating, their SSDI benefits depend on how their previous earnings, and how much they paid into the system.

How to Apply for SSDI Benefits

You can begin the SSDI benefits application process through the Social Security Administration’s online portal by calling 1-800-772-1213 or scheduling an appointment at a local Social Security office. Before initiating your application, you’ll want to gather the information and supporting evidence for your claim.

1. Basic Information Needed for Your Application

On your SSDI application, you’ll need to provide the following information:

You must indicate in your application whether you’re receiving any other disability compensation, such as workers’ compensation or state disability benefits. However, if you already receive VA disability benefits, they will not preclude you from obtaining SSDI if you qualify. 

2. Documents You Must Provide To Support Your Application

The Social Security Administration requires documentation to support your SSDI application. Some of the documents it may request include:

The SSA will accept photocopies for some documents, but they may request an original for others, such as your birth certificate.

3. Wait on a Decision for Your SSDI Benefits Application

Once the SSA receives your SSDI benefits application, it will determine whether you meet the basic eligibility requirements for SSDI. It may ask for additional information if there are questions concerning your documentation or details on your application.

Most people receive a decision within three to six months of their application. Veterans may qualify for expedited claims service if they have a 100 percent VA disability rating or their application relates to a service-connected disability they developed after September 30, 2001.

How Can I Increase My SSDI Benefits?

The SSDI does not provide partial disability benefits. There is no SSDI “rating,” unlike VA disability benefits. So, if you don’t meet the requirements for being fully disabled, you won’t receive any SSDI benefits. If you do receive SSDI benefits, then you are likely entitled to receive other benefits.

To support your SSDI claim, you must provide all the medical documentation you have demonstrating the severity of your disability. Medical records used in your VA disability benefits claim can help, as well as documentation from other doctors or hospitals you’ve gone to. 

To avoid any potential hiccups in the application process, consider working with a Social Security disabled veteran’s attorney. A lawyer well-versed in SSDI and VA benefits claims can help you assemble a complete application that includes all the evidence the Social Security Administration needs to evaluate your claim.

Veterans Guide can connect you with a qualified attorney specializing in SSDI claims. Contact us for help finding an experienced SSDI benefits lawyer.

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