Can you receive VA disability Social Security Disability and SSI in California?

I recently received a question from an individual who was attempting to gather information for a friend who was A. already receiving va disability benefits and B. receiving Social Security Disability benefits. The question that was put to me was "can he also receive SSI if he is already receiving VA benefits and Social Security Disability.

I actually find these kinds of misunderstandings to be fairly common and, again, it probably points to the fact that the social security administration does not do a stellar job of explaining the differences between Social Security Disability and supplemental security income, also known as SSI. Here's what I wrote the questioner:

Hi Mark (not the person's actual name),

If he's receiving Social Security Disability and VA benefits, chances are he won't be to file an SSI disability application.

Basically, it works like this: if an individual in California is disabled and files for disability benefits with the social security administration, the application will be taken as a title II claim (social security disabiilty) or as a title 16 claim (SSI). In some cases, a concurrent claim will be taken.


1. Are you allowed to receive VA benefits and Social Security Disability at the same time?
2. How is VA disability different from Social Security Disability?
3. Will Being A Veteran Affect Your Eligibility And Chances For Social Security Disability?
4. Does A Percentage of VA Disability Make You Eligible For Social Security Disability?

A concurrent claim means that a disability application will be initiated in both programs, but this only happens when a claimant who is insured for title II benefits (via earnings record and work credits) is only entitled to a small benefit amount (i.e. less than the full SSI amount).

In this case, the individual you mentioned probably receives a Social Security Disability benefit (title II) that is in excess of the SSI benefit and for this reason would not be eligible to file for SSI. SSI is really a needs-based program for those individuals who are either 1. not insured for Social Security Disability or 2. are insured for title II but are only eligible to receive a small monthly benefit (i.e. less than what an SSI recipient would receive).

It doesn't sound as though he'd be eligible for SSI. However, since I don't know the particulars of his case, I can't say for certain. In other words, he may want to contact SSA. It's always safest to contact a local social security office regarding eligibility issues since they can access his information.

Hope that helps,

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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