Starting March 17, 2014, veterans who have a VA compensation rating of 100% permanent and total (P&T) may receive expedited processing of applications for Social Security disability benefits.
What do I need to know about the VA and Social Security programs?
Both Social Security and VA pay disability benefits. However, their programs, processes, and criteria for receiving benefits are very different.
A VA compensation rating of 100% Permanent and Total does not guarantee that you will receive Social Security disability benefits. To be approved for Social Security benefits, you must meet Social Security’s definition of "disability." To be found disabled:
- You must be unable to do substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and
- Your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or to result in death.
If you receive VA compensation, this will not affect your Social Security benefits. For a quick, side-by-side comparison of each program, please reference this Fact Sheet.
As a veteran rated 100% P&T, how do I receive expedited processing for Social Security disability benefits?
First, you must apply for Social Security disability benefits. You can do this in one of three ways:
- Complete your application online;
- Call our toll-free telephone number, 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call us at TTY 1-800-325-0778; or
- Call or visit your local Social Security office.
If you want to apply in person, please call and make an appointment before you visit your local office.
What should I do to receive expedited processing of my Social Security disability application?
SSA automatically identifies most veterans that meet the VA 100% Permanent and Total disability compensation rating. However, in rare instances, a veteran may have to self-identify as meeting the rating and provide the VA notification letter as proof.
How long does the process take?
The length of time it takes Social Security to make a disability decision depends on several different factors, but primarily on:
- The nature of your disability;
- How quickly we obtain medical evidence from your doctor or other medical sources; and
- Whether it is necessary to send you for a medical examination in order to obtain evidence to support your claim.
You can help speed up the process by having the needed information on hand when you apply. Please go to Information You Need To Apply For Disability Benefits for more information.
What about Medicare?
If your application for Social Security disability benefits is approved, you will receive Medicare coverage automatically after you have received disability benefits for 24 months.