Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal program that provides income through a public insurance program. This program is not affiliated with the VA or the DoD and is available to veterans and non-veterans alike. To qualify for SSDI you must have, “a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death,” and meet a “recent work” test and “duration of work” test. Qualifying for compensation through the DoD or the VA does not mean that you automatically qualify for benefits under SSDI. The Social Security Administration (SSA) approves SSDI payments using its own set of qualifications. Generally speaking, medical history is the single most important factor in receiving benefits under SSDI. Therefore, all of your VA medical records and military records can play an important role in proving to the SSA that you qualify for SSDI.
SSDI is not affected by the receipt of VA disability compensation or pension, or DoD disability compensation. So you can receive SSDI while also getting those VA or DoD benefits. However, VA Disability Pension will be impacted by the receipt of SSDI because VA Disability Pension is based on need. That is, VA counts your other income to determine if you are financially "needy" enough to qualify.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
This is another program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for disabled and elderly people who are financially needy (veterans and non-veterans alike). Because eligibility is based on need, any other income from VA or DoD programs (as well as SSDI) would affect eligibility. However, if other income is low enough, an otherwise eligible person could still qualify for a reduced amount of SSI.
Get more extensive information on who qualifies and how to apply for SSDI and SSI on the SSA website. You may also contact the SSA by calling 1-800-772-1213. The SSA also provides a Disability Starter Kit.