Natalia Jofre: Hi I’m Natalia Jofre, I’m the director for the Social Security section here at Hill & Ponton.
Shelly Mark: And I’m Shelly Mark. I’m the senior Social Security attorney.
Natalia Jofre: So, last few segments we’ve been talking about date last insured, that it’s basically like an expiration date to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. We’re going to talk a little bit more in our next segment probably about what the different benefits are and when you can’t qualify for regular disability, but because we have been talking so much about veterans. We have a lot of veterans who have cases with date last insured issues, because either they’re not able to go right back to work after they leave their military service or they’re ill and they decide to live off of their veteran’s benefits or they’re just not well enough, many times mentally. I’ve had a lot of clients tell me that, that they don’t want to deal with the government. They don’t want to deal with the paperwork and we totally get that. But you’ve come across some really interesting stuff in terms of what they tell you.
Shelly Mark: Yeah. I think it’s the repetition. Like I have veterans tell me the same things, the same advice that they’ve been given and there’s a lot of misinformation out there having to do with the interaction of VA benefits and Social Security benefits. The client that we’ve been discussing with the DLI issue, he told me that when was awarded his benefits back in 2007 he was advised by his service rep or worker that he should not file for Social Security disability because there would be an offset of benefits between his VA and his Social Security. So for years, he thought that it would negatively affect him which is why he waited so long to actually file the claim. I’ve heard that numerous, numerous times and I think that’s why we find so many veterans with the expired DLI is because someone comes along later and says, hey, why didn’t you file for Social Security and then they end up filing later. So just to say if you have been awarded VA benefits even at 100% or no matter what your percent is, you can still and should still file for Social Security disability. There is no offset.
Natalia Jofre: Yeah.
Shelly Mark: As long as the benefits are service connected and the Social Security benefits are from the disability program, there will not be any offset.
Natalia Jofre: Right. So I think that sometimes people get confused and I always tell people, always err on the side of caution. File an application. What people will sometimes hear is from a person receiving non-service connected benefits, that they didn’t apply because there would be an offset. Well, that is true for non-service connected benefits because it’s an income-based benefit. So just like with Social Security and SSI which is also an income-based benefit, yes there is the potential because any household income would affect that benefit. So it’s not that specifically, Social Security would affect it, though I would also venture to say that it would be worth finding out if you were to qualify for Social Security, because what if you can get a higher benefit through Social Security?
Shelly Mark: True.
Natalia Jofre: I have had that happen.
Shelly Mark: That’s true.
Natalia Jofre: Like I had one client, he was like I don’t want to mess with my non-service connected benefits and then he called Social Security to find out how much he could get and his benefit from Social Security was much, much higher and he could still have his VA healthcare, but get the higher monetary benefit.
Shelly Mark: Sure.
Natalia Jofre: But we want to make it absolutely clear that service connected benefits are not affected by Social Security.
Shelly Mark: Right-
Natalia Jofre: At least not for now.
Shelly Mark: Right and there’s nothing negative about filing for Social Security to see if you’re eligible. There’s not like they’re going to somehow notify the VA and something bad is going to happen. Nothing like that’s going to happen. So I know a lot of times when veterans are filing for their service connected disabilities like you said, they’re already stressed, they’re already having to deal with a government agency and at that time they just don’t feel like they can handle … But as I would encourage anyone as soon as you can definitely go ahead and file it so you don’t end up in a situation where your DLI is so far removed from your current treatment.
Natalia Jofre: Okay, great. So the next segment we’ll be talking some more about date last insured and the different benefits that you can qualify for in relation to that, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns feel free to call our office or visit our website.
Shelly Mark: Thank you.