The Intersection of VA Disability Benefits and Social Security Disability Benefits
Many disabled Veterans receive Social Security disability benefits, either in the form of SSDI or SSI. When you file for service connection for a disability or for an increased rating for an already service connected disability, it's always important to inform the VA of these Social Security benefits. Although not applicable in every case, the Social Security determination may provide important evidence regarding the severity of an impairment. Take, for example, a Veteran who receives his or her Social Security benefits as a result of symptoms of PTSD. If he or she then files for an increase for the PTSD with the VA, the fact that Social Security has found that the symptoms exist to a disabling degree is great support for a higher rating.
This is especially true if you are applying for Individual Unemployability. VA has an obligation to obtain Social Security Administration records when it has actual notice that a Veteran is receiving Social Security benefits. Quartuccio v. Principi, 16 Vet. App. 183 (2002). Therefore, it's important to always let the VA know if you are receiving Social Security. Evidence that the Social Security Administration has found that you are unable to work may be valuable evidence in your claim for Individual Unemployability.
It's a fairly simple process for the VA to order Social Security files. Sometimes, however, you may not want to leave this task to your VA caseworker. You may contact the Social Security Administration directly and request a copy of your file. Alternatively, you may sign a waiver and your VA attorney can order the records and send them to the VA.
If you have questions about how important your Social Security disability decision is to your VA claim, contact one of our experienced disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today at 251-343-1111 to discuss your claim.