Transitioning to a civilian life can be difficult, especially if you have injuries and other conditions from your time in military service. Some issues are severe enough to make disability an obvious answer, but even the small aches and pains or mental unrest can add up over time. Don't grin and bear it; get the help you need from a multitude of support services. If you don't take it, the money and resources will just sit there unused--and not just waiting for a person in greater need.
What Compensation Is Available?
Without going into specific injury details, the two major compensation and financial systems available for veterans are Veterans Affairs (VA) disability and social security disability.
VA disability is more a compensation system than a social safety net, as it's payment for what you lost due to military service. If you injured your leg, suffered from a condition due to a disease or chemical exposure, or have a mental condition cause by something that happened during service, you are given a percentage of compensation that is settled upon by the VA claims rating offices.
Social security is a social safety net that is designed to get people off the system and back to a productive life. Although there are provisions for permanent disabilities, the system is still intended to be a temporary assistance while the claimant recovers, finds ways to cope with the condition, or finds another system more suited to their condition.
Which System Is Better?
The great thing is that you don't have to choose! You can file as many VA claims and appeals as you want, but it's better to get it right the first time so that you can get paid sooner. Although you will be paid retroactively if a denial is overturned, life and all its costs continue to build as you wait.
Some claims go through quickly without issues, or have to sit through long wait times. Denials can happen to any claim or appeal, or you could be approved on the first attempt. Aside from having a lawyer on your side, there's no easy way to tell. There are systemic veteran assistance issues across the entire VA, as well as claim system delays that are specific to certain regions and offices.
The good news is that while you work on one system, you can put a claim into another system. Both systems have a bit of wait time and paperwork complexity, so while the information is fresh and available, you may as well get a lawyer to handle both sets of claims or appeals. Social security is income-limited, so your VA disability earnings can cause problems with social security unless a lawyer coordinates the transition properly.
Contact a social security disability lawyer and explain your veteran status. Get the help you need for both VA disability and social security disability to make sure you have multiple backup plans for recovery.