Two Different Programs: Social Security Disability and Veteran Benefits

Individuals with disabilities seeking government benefits might have to do a little digging if they are seeking clarification on their eligibility. That’s because two major disability programs – Social Security and Veterans Benefits – might qualify one person but deny another.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program can help those who suffer a non-work-related injury or illness. Individuals who qualify have paid for the program through their payroll taxes. The SSDI program is considered an entitlement that will only compensate those who are completely disabled and cannot work. Eligibility is strict, and those applying must meet guidelines that require a severe injury or impairment, earnings of less than $1,000 per month, and an ailment listed as an impairment. Nearly 8 million people currently collect Social Security Disability checks every year, with payments totaling more than $8 billion.

Unlike Social Security Disability, which is a kind of insurance program, the Veterans Disability Compensation (VDC) program is available to any veteran who is afflicted with a condition as a result of his or her military service. The VDC provides services and cash, tax-free, to help with a service-related injury. Those approved for benefits can still work. Those veterans who are approved and are unemployed receive additional benefits. Veterans can apply for both SSDI and Veterans Disability benefits. The VDC program provides benefits to 3.1 million individuals and costs $3.6 million per year. Unlike the requirements they must meet for SSDI, veterans need to only prove their actual military service, that they were not dishonorably discharged, and that they have injuries or an affliction that resulted from their military service.