VA System vs. SSA System
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' system for benefits is quite different than the Social Security Administration's system. The veterans disability system is based on percentages: a veteran may be 10%, 40% or 100% disabled and receive a certain amount of disability benefits based on that percentage. With the SSA , you are either disabled or not disabled; meaning your condition leaves you unable to work for at least a year.
Approval for Veterans Benefits vs. Social Security Disability Benefits
If you are approved to receive VA benefits, you may have a greater chance of being approved for SSDI benefits. If your disability rating from the VA is 70% or higher, you are more likely to be considered disabled by the SSA because the disability determination is from another federal agency. However, this process does not always work the other way around. Being approved for SSDI does not necessarily help you get veterans benefits. If you are considered disabled by the SSA, the VA may have difficulty determining whether or not your disability is service-related.
The "Treating Physician" Rule
With social security, once you have chosen your doctor and established him or her as the "treating physician," his or her medical opinion is given deference. This means whatever your doctor says about your condition is the official, rock-solid medical evidence for your claim. This may mean the difference between winning and losing your claim for disability benefits.
With the VA, however, your treating physician's opinion is not given as much power because VA decisions are based on your entire file, not just a particular medical statement. Also, getting a helpful opinion on disability for the purpose of VA benefits can be very difficult if the doctor works for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
If you need assistance with filing for disability benefits, you can discuss your situation with a knowledgeable SSDI attorney. The legal team at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers is standing by to help you with your claim.