What does my Veteran’s Disability Rating mean to Social Security?
You might think that if one part of the government says you’re disabled, another part of the government would have to agree. Sadly that is not the case. If you have a permanent and total disability rating from the VA, you still have to prove your disability to Social Security.
Your VA rating can be anywhere from 0% to 100%. Even if you have a 100% rating from the VA, you may still have to fight for disability from Social Security. In some cases, your VA rating can be wholly ignored. How much weight your VA rating receives depends on when you filed your Social Security claim.
The “New” Law Hurts Veterans’ Claims
If you filed a Social Security claim after March of 2017 a “new” law applies to you. For newer cases Social Security will not analyze your Veterans case. However, they must consider the evidence that supports your disability rating. This means there is no automatic approval of your claim even if you have a 100% disability rating.
While your claim will not be automatically approved, it should be approved (or denied) “quickly.” For those veterans with a 100% disability rating, Social Security will speed up review of your claim. If you have a 100% rating, be sure to tell Social Security as early as possible.
The “Old” Law Helps Veterans’ Claims
Before March of 2017 Social Security had a different law. It gave a disability rating from another agency more weight. Under the old law, your Veterans disability could not be ignored. Social Security claims can take years if there are appeals. As a result there are still many claims that were filed before the law change.
Even though Social Security could not ignore your disability rating, they do not have to give it “great weight.” In a recent case a veteran’s claim that the ALJ had under appreciated the VA’s disability rating was denied. This veteran claimed that his rating should have carried “great weight” with Social Security. The Court of Appeals in Noble v. Social Security said “no.”
The Noble Case Refused to Give “Great Weight”
The Noble case involved a veteran with an 80% disability rating and who was on his third application for Social Security disability. The veteran’s claim was pre-2017 therefore the old law applied. Even though the old law applied, he and Social Security disagreed about how much weight his VA disability should get.
Under the old law, the VA rating “could not be ignored.” However, the appeals court ruled that the VA rating was just another piece of evidence. Indeed it appears the hearing judge could have given it no weight as long as the decision denying benefits discussed the VA rating. All the hearing judge had to do was explain to what extent the VA rating was considered and why.
According to the hearing judge in Noble, newer evidence did not support awarding disability. The newer evidence was more convincing than the VA rating and disability was denied. The old law will still help those claims filed before 2017. However, even under the old law a high VA rating might not carry the day.
Where to Get Help with Your Social Security Disability Claim
Rules change and, as the Noble case shows, even disabled veterans can have a hard time getting Social Security disability. Don’t take your case for granted. Get some help with your claim:
- Read the Eleventh Circuit’s discussion of SSA vs. VA disability here;
- Review the SSA’s page for wounded warriors here;
- If you have a 100% disability rating from the VA check out how it might speed up your SSA claim; and
- Hire a lawyer. The claimant in Noble did not have a lawyer at crucial points in his case. Contact the lawyers at Browne House Law for help with your Social Security.