Brian Hill: Welcome to the Hill and Ponton video blog. I’m Brian Hill and this is Carol Ponton. Today we’re going to be talking about examples of how the social security system and the VA system interact and when you can and can’t get both benefits. This is an important topic so stay with us. We’ll be right back.
Brian Hill: Carol, so I have a veteran who called me the other day and said, “I just got my social security benefits. Can I apply for VA benefits?” And tell us, explain to us why he can do that.
Carol Ponton: Well, he could absolutely apply because no matter what type of social security benefit – he needs to see what he can get under the VA system. So, I’ll give you an example. I had a veteran that he had 100% VA service-connected benefits and he called me up and said, “Can I still keep getting my social security benefits?” And the answer to the question was, “What type of benefits are you getting?” He happened to be getting disability benefits. In other words, he worked, paid into the system, and became disabled. So he was entitled to get both.
Brian Hill: And are there veterans who are not entitled?
Carol Ponton: Yes. If those people were getting social security supplemental security income, they would not be able to get both. And it’s important that if you’re getting surplus with social security supplemental income and you get entitled to VA benefits anything over $771 a month that you stop the SSI benefits because they will recoup them. They will come back and take this money from you. So, a quick answer to the question is when my client calls and says, “I’m getting social security benefits. Now that I have my VA hundred percent or my VA service can I keep getting my social security benefits?” The answer to the simple question is, “How much are you getting?” And if it’s $800 or more the answer is yes you can get more.
Brian Hill: So, and I had a veteran who was getting social security SSI and then she started getting a full benefits or partial benefits from the VA and didn’t tell the VA. And so, she ended up with a very large overpayment and when that happens to you, you need to understand that if you’ve got an overpayment situation with the VA you can ask for a waiver. You can ask the VA and explain to the VA what you’ve done and what’s happened and talk about your financial situation. And a lot of times they’ll waive it and they’ll waive it in very surprising situations.
Carol Ponton: It is. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason. The law is you have to show that it was not your fault, you didn’t know. Where I see this happening more often is when the veteran actually calls the social security administration and tells them, “Look, I’m getting VA benefits. I don’t know that I’m entitled to my social security anymore. Would you please look into this?” By the way, that’s not a good idea. You need to write them a letter and send a certified copy and then show them. So the law is you have to show it was not your fault. So in this situation if you’ve written a letter and you’ve told them about it and they keep paying you, you can say, “It’s not my fault.” And you’d have to show it’d be a financial hardship for you to pay it back.
Brian Hill: So, you’d see this area about the interface between social security and the veterans is very complicated and you can run a foul of it. And you can end up with the somebody saying that you owe them thousands and thousands of dollars.
Carol Ponton: But this is what you get. You get a letter from the social security administration, “We find that we’ve overpaid you $230,000. please return this money in the enclosed envelope.” Honest, that’s the fine you get.
Brian Hill: Don’t just take that as a fine. You have a right to appeal that, you have a right to ask for a waiver, you have a right to show what happened. You just need to understand.
Carol Ponton: What your rights are.
Brian Hill: There are a lot of things you’re entitled to. So, thank you for joining us today and we’ll look forward to talking to you again.