A Veterans Affairs 100% impairment rating is usually TERRIFIC evidence in a Social Security disability case. While a VA rating is not binding on Social Security (Social Security does not have to agree with the VA that you are disabled), Social Security will often give strong deference to a 100% disability rating from the Department of Veteran Affairs.
However, that still does not make a case a slam dunk.
Here are 4 ways A number of problems you can still be denied despite having a 100% impairment rating from the VA:
- Lack of treatment. Social Security expects an individual to try to exercise a reasonable amount of self-help. That means getting regular ongoing medical treatment. Of course, some conditions may not be helped with on-going medical treatment (e.g. a loss of a limb), but others may.
- Non-compliance with treatment. Social Security regulations allow a claim to be denied if the individual is non-compliant with treatment if that treatment is prescribed and estimated to restore functioning to the point that the individual is no longer disabled. In practice though, I see cases denied simply for failure to follow treatment. Note: there are exceptions that excuse non-compliance with treatment, such as inability to afford the treatment or medication.
- Drug or alcohol abuse. This is one of the biggest obstacles to what otherwise might be a fairly clear-cut case. Under Social Security regulations, if drug abuse or alcoholism is a material factor contributing to the disability, benefits can be denied.
- Family or marital issues. If periods of symptom aggravation coincide with periods of trouble with a spouse or other family matters, it may be difficult for Social Security to separate whether the disabling symptoms come from the underlying impairment (which may allow for approving benefits) or from the situational issues (which may cause a denial of benefits).
None of these problems is necessarily insurmountable. But, the first step in resolving one of these issues is being able to identify it as a possible problem.
This is one of those instances when having an attorney objectively and impartially review your case may be extremely useful. What may seem like a minor matter or an easily explainable situation to you, may turn out to be a major hurdle in approving your case.