Wounded warriors should recognize that an application for disability benefits is different than an application for benefits under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
When applying to the SSA and VA, service members must file two separate applications.
Under the SSA, military servicemen and servicewomen can apply to two programs. These programs administer disability benefits for recipients who are disabled and in need. The first program is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the second program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The SSDI program delivers benefits to applicants and family members if the applicants are “insured.” An applicant demonstrates this insured status by proving a sufficient work history. A worker can receive four work credits for every year worked. Work credits are based on the amount of money earned in that period.
A recipient of SSDI benefits has paid into Social Security through taxes as well.
Meanwhile, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is different. This social assistance program delivers benefits based on financial need. An applicant must demonstrate limited resources and income to qualify.
The SSI program does not require a history of work credits. Applicants do not have to be “insured.” Instead, applicants for SSI benefits are generally:
- Elderly, blind, and disabled
- Of limited income and assets; and
- In need of cash to obtain necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter
In both programs, the Social Security Administration (SSA) relies on a strict definition of disability. The disabling condition(s) must meet certain criteria for duration and severity. The condition(s) must also prevent the applicant from working in any significant capacity. The disability should be total disability.
Partial and short-term disabilities are not covered by the SSA.