New VA Tool Helps Maximize Income

In July 2018 and updated in March 2019, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a new tool for beneficiaries of Social Security Administration's (SSA's) disability benefits, which helps demonstrate how income from employment and/or VA disability benefits will affect Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Too often, misinformation about how employment will affect income from SSI/SSDI discourages beneficiaries from pursuing their vocational goals. The new VA Income and Benefits Calculator offers a strong visual representation of how working while receiving SSI/SSDI and/or VA benefits is not only possible, but can be an integral part of maximizing income and housing stability.
We encourage members of the SOAR community to utilize the new Income and Benefits Calculator with Veterans and non-Veterans to:
  • Begin the conversation
    • Integrate the Calculator into your engagement strategies to help show that employment is possible while receiving SSI/SSDI
    • Encourage individuals who are applying for SSI/SSDI to also pursue their vocational goals and support them in these efforts
  • Explore what is possible
    • Use the Calculator to explore how starting work, increasing hours or pay, or saving money for vocational training will affect SSI/SSDI
    • Play around with different scenarios – the possibilities are endless! 
Jen Elder, National Policy and Partnerships Coordinator at the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center, provides a short walkthrough of how to use each of the calculators. These key tips will help you quickly and easily start using the Calculator, to help those you serve maximize their income! A PowerPoint of the presentation without the walkthrough is also available.
We’d love to share your feedback with the VA on how you might use this new tool! To provide feedback, email Jen Elder at