Fighting for your rights as a veteran gets far more difficult when social security disability is thrown into the mix, especially if you sustained your injury as a civilian or in relation to, but not directly from, an injury during a tour of duty. These two programs work in a way that can be hard to understand, but certain factors play into each other in consistent ways. Here are two ways in which your VA benefits could affect your SSD benefits and vice versa, and how to get the most out of the two.
Using Your VA Medical Records
Many veterans use their VA medical records as a reliable source of information to support their claim for disability. However, this can become a sticky situation, as the definitions of "disabled" vary between the VA and Social Security, and your medical records are one place where this distinction can rear its ugly head. As a general rule, Social Security will give you more money than the VA if your injury was sustained or primarily aggravated after or between your tour(s) of duty, if the VA gives you any money at all. In this way, the VA tends to be more stringent and willing to admit that an injury is unrelated to military service than Social Security.
To use this to your advantage, applying to receive VA disability first will give you a solid package of material to provide to the Social Security Administration to substantiate a claim with them, and Social Security is more willing to administer aid to you, as well, meaning your package with VA records will pack even more clout.
Using Time to Your Advantage
Social Security Disability can only be administered if the applicant has worked five of the last ten years, which means that if you can't work for longer than this period before coming around to applying, then you could be out of luck. For this reason, if your case is closed and you know you won't be able to work long-term, then it is best to apply to Social Security Disability first, since the important thing in applying for this program is timing. On the other hand, the most important factor in applying for VA disability is the fact that your injury was sustained in relation to military service, so the clock isn't running quite as quickly with the VA.
In either case, figuring out how to use these two programs to your advantage in a mutually beneficial way is critical to collecting your proper money. It is always best to consult with a social security disability or VA lawyer like Banik & Renner before doing this, however, as one wrong move could affect your payout.