Wednesday, November 9, 2016

VA Rating & SSD

I represent a former mail carrier seeking Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits, who the Department of Veterans Affairs (“DVA”) had rated as 90% disabled. More importantly, the DVA states that the claimant was ”totally and permanently disabled due solely to your service connected disabilities.” 

Last year, the Seventh Circuit ruled that great – not some - weight should be given to a DVA disability finding of 70% because any differences between the VA and SSA disability criteria are small. While the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) approved my client’s SSD claim after a hearing, he only gave the VA disability some weight. 

The Seventh Circuit approach makes more sense. The VA and SSA are both federal agencies with the same task; deciding whether a claimant is totally disabled from being able to work. Considering that the Seventh Circuit ruled that a VA rating of 70% should be given great weight, there is even more reason to give a VA rating of 90% great weight. Had the ALJ given the 90% VA rating great weight, then there would have been little or no need to conduct a hearing, which is important since the wait for a hearing is now nearing two years.

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