I frequently speak with veterans who express concern about their ability to earn both Social Security disability benefits and veterans’ disability benefits. The good news is that you can earn both at the same time. In fact, in some cases VA disability benefits can help you earn Social Security benefits.
If you’re receiving veterans’ disability, then Social Security is going to strongly take that into consideration. In their eyes, another government agency has already declared your injury legitimate and decided that you are in need of benefits. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really work the other way. If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits, the VA isn’t necessarily going to take that into consideration because there’s no way of knowing if your Social Security benefits are service-related.
There are a few differences between Social Security and VA disability. For instance, in order to receive Social Security benefits, you must be completely disabled — whereas with VA disability, you can have a low disability rating (sometimes as low as 10%).
Another big difference is the amount of weight your physician’s word has. With Social Security disability, your designated treating physician’s word is the final say. Your case can rely entirely on what your doctor says. However, with veterans’ disability, the VA considers all factors. Their policy says that your doctor could be biased, so they must look at any and all contributing factors.