Differences between VA disability and Social Security Disability

Disabled veterans will usually find themselves dealing with the social security administration, at some point or another. And this is only to be expected. However, many vets may end up very surprised when they leam how different the two systems really are. In this article, we'll discuss the principle aspects of the SSA system as well as a couple of differences that exist between the two systems.

To begin with, how does social security disability work? Basically, like this: a person who feels that he or she is disabled contacts the social security office that is closest to them. They inquire into how a disability application can be filed and an appointment is set, either for an in-office interview, or an over-the-phone interview. This is for the purpose of filing what is called an initial claim.

Once the paperwork for the initial claim is complete, the claimant's file is transferred to a state agency known as DOS, which stands for disability determination services. At DDS, the claimant's file is assigned to a Disability Examiner, a specialist who will gather the claimant's medical records and, then, in consultation with a physician and/or a psychologist who is assigned to the examiner's unit, make an approval decision or denial decision. Unfortunately, the decision that is made is typically a denial. In fact, denials occur roughly seventy percent of the time at the initial claim level.

After the initial claim is denied, the claimant may file a new claim (a mistake) or may follow the appeal process and file what is known as a request for reconsideration.
The reconsideration works exactly as the initial claim. The paperwork is filed at the social security office which, once more, sends the claimant's file off to disability determination services. When the reconsideration (or recon, for short) is received at DDS, it is assigned to a reconsideration-level examiner...who does exactly what the initial examiner did. He or she gathers whatever medical evidence is thought to be needed and then makes a decision. Typically, this is also a denial. And, in fact, recons are denied at an even higher rate: about eighty-five percent of the time.

After a recon denial, a claimant may elect to follow the appeal process again and file a request for a hearfng before an administrative law judge.

Fortunately, this is where most claimants will have the best chance of winning their claims. Unfortunately, because the system is so backed up, it may take an extremely long time to have a hearing date set. Depending on which part of the country the claimant resides in, and how backlogged their local hearing office is, it may take a year or longer to have a hearing date set.

In a nutshell, this is how the disability process plays out for most individuals (this is an abbreviated version, of course).

Now, how is the federal social security disability system different from the the VA system?
Primarily, the SSA system is different from the VA system in that there are no percentages of disability. While the system that exists for vets allows the veterans administration to conclude that a vet is 40% disabled and then receive benefits based on that determination (and potentially have that percentage upgraded overtime to a full 100% rating), in the social security system it is all or nothing.

With the social security disability system, a claimant is either awarded 100% of their eligible benefits, or........ Cont. on page 2 click here.

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