Almost 3.8 million veterans experience some kind of disability in the U.S. today, as of 2019. Among those, a whopping 1.1 million veterans have a disability rating of 70% or higher, which means their disability is severe enough to prevent them from ever going to work again. The severity of disability of so many of those veterans means they are unable to earn for themselves.
Fortunately, most veterans are able to secure some kind of benefits either under Social Security Disability benefits or veteran benefits under the Department of Veteran Affairs. However, living as claimants of social security and VA benefits and not being able to work may be very difficult and not a choice of some of those veterans. Also, the veterans may not know what options would they have once they rely solely on those benefits.
Here are a few points to ponder that you (as veterans) may not already know, that might improve your life quality while on disability:
- You can go to work
Yes, you read that right. The social security administration lets you test the waters by letting you perform a limited amount of work under the ‘Ticket to Work’, TOW. The TOW allows veteran beneficiaries to find alternate modes of work with incentives while keeping an amount of their benefits even when they recover a little from the disability.
If you are a veteran willing to go to work while you are on the road to recovery, the TOW may be the best option for you. This is free and completely voluntary and can help you regain control of your life, slowly.
- You can earn benefits on past disabilities
Sometimes veterans or their families may get so caught up in their disabilities where they may not have considered the option of filing for social security claims or VA benefits on time. Fortunately, if you are eligible under non-medical conditions for social security disability insurance, and are able to prove to the SSA of your past disability, you may be granted SSDI benefits. Although these benefits will be granted as backpay or lump sum with a larger tax than regular monthly benefits, this will still be more than enough to help you pay back loans or medical bills for which you had to borrow money.
- You have options
Most of the veterans are granted SSDI or VA benefits if they are completely disabled or receive a 70% disability rank respectively. Although not all of the 3.8 million veterans may be granted benefits, there are always multiple options for you to consider.
You can file for both social security disability benefits and veteran disability benefits at the same time. If you qualify for both, good news is you can choose to keep both of them under certain conditions. On the other hand, if you receive a 65-70% rating on your disability, you will still have high chances of being granted VA disability benefits but will be denied Social Security. This is because you are either completely disabled or not disabled under SSA’s rules. In that case, you may also get veteran worker’s compensation, which is not a disability program. Since it is not an income, but compensation, you will not have your benefits reduced due to it even if your benefits increase the threshold.
It is wise to consult a disability attorney while taking these considerations. Your attorney will not only provide you legal guidance but you will also learn which benefits to seek first to maximize your income.