This is a question that comes up quite often for disabled veterans. The answer is: it depends.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) states that a disability or blindness determination by a non-governmental agency or by another governmental agency is made according to that agency’s rules, and not according to the rules of the Social Security Administration. Thus, such a disability or blindness determination is not binding on Social Security. 20 CFR 404.1504 and 416.904. See also POMS DI 24515.008 (H).
Social Security’s rules and regulations provide that a final decision regarding disability or blindness can only be made by a State agency or the Commissioner of Social Security.
However, this does not mean that Social Security can ignore disability or blindness decisions made by other agencies. Social Security’s rules require that an adjudicator must consider all medical opinion evidence. In addition, the medical evidence other agency medical professional’s may have considered in making their opinions is very relevant. See Social Security Ruling 06-03p.
Thus, although a VA determination of disability and blindness is not binding on the Social Security Administration, in my opinion it is always wise to submit that decision as evidence in the claimant’s case. Although its relevance is somewhat diminished by the fact that the other agency used different rules in making its decision, there may be valuable opinion evidence and possibly other medical evidence contained in the VA determination.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.