Brian Hill: Hello, and welcome to the Hill & Ponton video blog. I’m Brian Hill, here with Carol Ponton. Today, we want to talk about how the Social Security system and the VA system interact. This is an important area that will hopefully maximize your benefits. So stick with us, we’ll be right back.
Brian Hill: Carol, I know that you’ve spent a lot of years working in the Social Security system, and now you’ve spent a lot of years working in the veterans’ area. So tell us how the two systems work together.
Carol Ponton: This is something that’s really important for veterans because, like you said, it’s the ability to maximize their income. And for some reason, many veterans think that they’re not entitled to both Social Security and VA benefits, particularly Social Security Disability benefits and VA benefits. And I often see them very reluctant to file-
Brian Hill: So that we’re clear, what type of Social Security benefits are available?
Carol Ponton: That’s a great question. Social Security has three types… four types, but basically we’re talking about three, benefits available. One is Social Security Disability. If you have worked, paid into the system and become disabled, you’re entitled to benefits. Social Security retirement, when you get to a certain age, you’re able to get retirement off of the benefits, off of the income that you paid in. So those are the two main types. There’s another called Supplemental Security Income, and that is for someone who is unable to work but has no assets or income to speak of.
Brian Hill: Okay. And so tell us how that interacts with veterans-
Carol Ponton: Well, first let me make sure that you understand. You have to work and pay into the system to get Social Security Disability or Social Security retirement. Supplemental Security Income, you don’t have to have ever paid in at all. You only have to show that you’re unable to work and that your income is under a certain amount. Unfortunately, it’s very low; it’s like $771. Okay. So that’s how the Social Security System works.
Carol Ponton: The VA system essentially has somewhat of the same system. If you have been in the service and you have a service-connected problem, you’re entitled to service-connected disability. But say that you don’t have a service-connected disability, but you were in the service during time of war and you’re unable to work. This is somewhat similar to the SSI system. The VA will pay you if you’re unable to work and you served during time of war if your income is under a certain amount.
Brian Hill: In time of war, just real quickly, basically for the last 30 years is most of it has been except for the period of time from ’75 to around ’89.
Carol Ponton: Right. So you have World War II, Vietnam. Then after Vietnam, you get up to ’89 and it’s been a time of war at that, pretty much since that time period.
Brian Hill: Right. Right. So how do the two interact with that?
Carol Ponton: Okay. So you have, most of our veterans are getting veterans service-connected disability benefits. Okay. They wonder, can I get Social Security? The answer is what type of Social Security you’re getting. If you’re getting Social Security Disability, Social Security retirement, the answer is yes, in other words, what you’ve worked for. But if you’re under the SSI income program, you are not entitled.
Brian Hill: So, if it’s disability or retirement, you get both.
Carol Ponton: Right.
Brian Hill: But if it’s SSI, what happens?
Carol Ponton: You cannot get them because, remember, SSI is only for people who have no income over a certain amount, and most of the time, once you start getting the VA benefits, you’re going to get over that amount. Say you have a 10% rating. You may be able to get both, but very soon you’re only going to be able to get the VA benefits. But where I see my veterans is they don’t understand you can get service-connected disability and the disability benefits from Social Security or retirement, and you should not wait to file for either one.
Brian Hill: Okay. All right. Well, thanks for joining us today. This has been the Hill & Ponton video blog.