If you are a U.S. veteran, you can apply for public benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Most veterans, as long as they have been honorably discharged, qualify for the different benefits the government provides. However, these are not the only benefits available to veterans. Veterans who have Social Security tax payment history and who continue to work after returning home are also entitled to receive Social Security benefits.
VA Disability Compensation
If you are a veteran who became disabled due to your service-time, you are eligible to receive disability benefits through the VA Disability Compensation program. These benefits are paid according to the severity of your condition. People who are totally and permanent disabled receive higher benefits than people with a disability rated at 10 percent. VA Disability benefits are not taxable. You can apply for these benefits online or by mail.
If you have low income or no income at all and you are older than age 65 or younger and totally and permanently disabled, you can receive monthly payments to help with your necessary monthly expenses. You cannot receive VA Disability Compensation and VA Pension at the same time. The VA office pays whichever benefit gives the higher amount.
As soon as you retire from your military service, you can start receiving military retirement benefits. The amount of retirement benefits you receive depends on the number of years you served. If you served in the military for 20 years, you receive a percentage of your regular military pay as a retirement benefit. However, if you served in the military for 40 or more years, you are eligible to receive 100 percent of your military payment as a retirement benefit.
Social Security Benefits
As a military service member, when you received your military pay, the military withheld all necessary taxes from it. This means that, as you served you also accumulated Social Security tax. When you return home, if you continue working and paying Social Security tax and you accumulate enough work credits -- in 2011, one credit is $1,120 of earned income -- you are eligible to receive Social Security benefits.
Social Security Disability
You can receive Social Security Disability benefits if you are totally disabled and your disability is either permanent or is expected to last at least one year. Your disability must disallow you from working and earning more than $1,000 per month, and it must also make it difficult to perform normal daily activities such as walking and remembering, without major effort. These benefits are paid every month, starting from your sixth month of disability. You can receive Social Security Disability benefits and VA disability at the same time.
Social Security Retirement
You are also entitled to receive Social Security Retirement benefits if you pay Social Security tax for at least 10 years. You can start receiving these benefits at age 62, but full retirement age is when you reach 66 if you were born before 1960 or 67 if you were born later than 1960. These benefits are paid monthly, and the amount you receive depends on your average income for the years you worked. You can receive both Social Security and veteran retirement benefits.
- Department of Veterans Affairs: VA Disability Compensation; November 2009
- Department of Veterans Affairs: VA Pension; November 2009
- Military.com: The Military Retirement System; 2011
- SSA: Disability Benefits; August 2010
- SSA: Retirement Benefits; January 2011
- SSA: Military Service and Social Security;January 2011