The Department of Veterans Affairs offers two major disability benefits programs: (1) service-connected disability compensation and (2) non-service connected disability pension. Both benefits are based on the disability of the veteran and the disability’s effect on employability. VA pension is a needs based program. To be eligible for pension, a veteran must have wartime service, low income, and be totally and permanent disabled. Because this benefit is for low income people who are totally and permanently disabled, VA will reduce VA pension dollar-for-dollar for “countable” income. Compensation is not based on need or income. Compensation is based on a disability being caused by or otherwise related to the period of military service.
Social Security Administration, offers two major benefit programs: (1) Social Security Disability (SSDI) and (2) Social Security Income (SSI).
Generally, veterans can receive both SSDI and VA Compensation Benefits concurrently. For pension purposes, however, VA will count income from almost all sources, including SSDI income (but not SSI) to determine income for pension purposes. See 38 C.F.R. § 3.261 (2012). This means that if a veteran is receiving VA pension benefits and he/she begins receiving SSDI benefits, VA will offset the amount received from Social Security from the pension payment.