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If the Veterans Administration determines that I am disabled, will the Social Security Administration also find that I am disabled?

If the Veterans Administration determines that I am disabled, will the Social Security Administration also find that I am disabled?      

The Veterans Administration (“VA”) and the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) have their own, independent rules for determining whether someone is disabled for purposes of receiving disability benefits. Under the VA’s guidelines, someone who is not completely disabled can qualify for disability benefits. In other words, the VA recognizes partial disabilities (in terms of percentages) as well as total disabilities.

The SSA, however, generally recognizes only total disabilities. Under the SSA’s guidelines, a disability is a serious medical condition (mental or physical) that has lasted (or will last) for at least one year and prevents a person from engaging in any substantial, gainful activity. This definition incorporates not only the type of disability (for example, post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic heart failure) but also the extent or severity of the disability. As a result, someone could have a type of disability recognized by the SSA, but nevertheless not be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if the severity of the disability were found to be insufficient. A mental or physical condition severe enough to qualify as a disability under the SSA’s rules would likely be considered at least a 90% disability under the VA’s rules.

At the same time, a determination by the VA that someone is disabled does not necessarily mean that the SSA will also make the same determination. For example, even if the VA determines that someone is 90% or 100% disabled, the SSA does not automatically reach the same conclusion. The SSA requires that everyone who applies for disability benefits must submit medical documentation to prove the type and severity of their medical condition. Under the SSA’s regulations, only documentation provided by certain physicians is sufficient to establish that someone has a qualifying disability. The SSA does consider other evidence, such as a person’s own statements or disability evaluations by other government agencies, but the SSA only considers the other evidence for purposes of judging the extent or severity of a disability.

A disability determination from the VA can be useful for purposes of applying for Social Security disability benefits, but it will not be binding on the SSA. In many cases, a 90% or a 100% disability finding by the VA will go a long way towards proving a disability to the SSA, but it will probably not—by itself—be enough to establish a disability under the SSA’s rules. If the VA has determined that you are disabled and you have questions about how that could help you qualify for Social Security disability benefits, then you should consult an attorney familiar with Social Security law.

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Chart of INS Application and Petition Fees

INS Application and Petition  Fees

I-17 Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Students
$200
I-90 Application to Replace Alien Registration Card (“Green Card”) $110
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Non-immigrant Arrival-Departure Document (I-94) $85
I-129
I-29H
I-29L
Petitions for Nonimmigrant Workers $110
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé $95
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative $110
I-131 Application for Travel Document $95
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $115
I-191 Application for Advance Permission to Return to Unrelinquished Domicile $170
I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter As a Nonimmigrant $170
I-193 Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa $170
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal $170
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status $220
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur $350
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status $120
I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan As an Immediate Relative $405
I-601 Application for Waiver on Grounds of Excludability $170
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, As Amended $170
I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence $125
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization $100
I-817 Application for Voluntary Departure Under the Family Unity Act $120
I-824 Action on an Approved Application or Petition $120
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Residence $345
N-400 Application for Naturalization $225
N-565 Application for Replacement of Naturalization/Citizenship Certificate $135
N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship $160
N-643 Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child
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