Many veterans are left confused and in the cold wondering how they can collect the benefits they’ve been promised and to which they’re entitled after suffering a serious injury in the course of service to their country. The VA takes a close look at various disability-related factors in determining eligibility for benefits and social security. Let’s examine how the VA factors in the levels and nature of disability for Social Security and veterans’ benefits, and how an attorney can help your case.
Veterans Benefits and Disability
As far back as 2009 the GAO (Government Accountability Office) has been issuing strong recommendations that the Social Security Administration should improve and increase its collaboration and outreach with the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) to increase access to veterans benefits for disability across the board.
Also in 2009, Congress released the bipartisan BRAVE Act, which certified veterans who were determined to have total disability by the VA to have automatic access to SSA disability programs. The SSA has worked towards improving coordination with the VA in this regard, but there’s still some way to go.
Understanding Disability Wages
It is perhaps not surprising that the higher degree of disability one has, the more monthly compensation they are entitled to receive under current guidelines. A veteran who has a VA disability rating of 10% is entitled to $131 per month as of 2014. A vet with a disability rating at 100%, on the other hand, is entitled to $2,858 per month.
These monthly allowances are designed to compensate for the loss of wage earnings potential based on the level of disability suffered. Other special compensations may be added to the total for those veterans requiring special care, accessibility concerns for housing, constant nursing or medical care, vehicle adaptations, loss of extremities, etc.
Disabled Veterans Can Work
A big difference between VA benefits and SSDI benefits is that vets who get disability compensation can work without fear of losing their benefits, unless they have a specific diagnosis of Individual Unemployability. Those with an IU rating must report their earnings every year, and if they exceed that which is considered to be “substantially gainful,” the IU rating can be re-evaluated.
Those receiving SSDI, on the other hand, can only earn so much without having their disability rating re-evaluated; in addition, part of the outlook of Social Security is to help people become gainful members of society, meaning they’ll look for ways to get you back to work.
The VA and the SSA collaborate in sharing medical records, disability determination and payments and benefit amounts received by each organization. This coordination allows each organization to continually evaluate and reevaluate the status of everyone collecting benefits under their programs. The object is to expedite decisions and improve the efficiency of benefits awards.
When You Should Seek Help
Unfortunately, this coordination has resulted in some veterans who desperately need benefits, being denied the coverage that’s so important to their survival. When this happens, you don’t have to take it and suffer. A qualified disability and veterans benefits attorney can help you get the benefits you need and challenge denials. If you’re in Ohio and would like a consult and more information, call the lawyers at Stano Law today.