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Can Veteran Disability Benefits be deducted from my monthly long term disability insurance check?

The answer to this question depends on the language contained within your long term disability insurance policy. In most disability claims that are governed by ERISA there is an offset provision for other disability related benefits such as SSDI, Worker Compensation or Veteran Benefits. There have been several court opinions around the country that have found that if a claimant is receiving VA benefits for a disabling condition unrelated to the disabling condition filed with the disability insurance carrier, then the disability company should not be entitled to an offset for VA benefits.

Take a look at our discussion of the case of Riley v. Sun Life Insurance for a more detailed discussion regarding VA disability benefits as an offset.

There are 4 opinions so far. Add your comment now.

George Gridley:

I have an interesting question. I retired from the Naval Reserve in 1998 after 20 years of service For approximately 12 years of that period I served in a Volunteer Training Unit. This means that I performed regular drills without pay but received retirement points like any other reservist. Upon my retirement I was placed in a status known as “gray area” as such,I could not collect a pension until my 60th birthday. In 2005 I went on long term disability.It will expire in 5 more years. The pension is unique in that it has no vesting dates or provision for vesting and will vanish if I die before age 60. Additionally my spouse has certain rights in regard to payments and is no way awarded for any disability. The policy appears to have some language claming setoffs for other sources of income. Could a set off be claimed successfully here where if the benefit were earned it occurred prior to any disability? I have copies of policies for 2 consecutive years. The carrier and I agree as to which one covers my claim for benefits. However the carriers claim for set offs is defined fairly broadly therein in opposition to which I would contend that this pension is not what was intended as Other sources. A subsequent policy gives examples of things which will not be considered other sources and among those are “veteran’s benefits”. Does this include my pension though administered by the Department of Defense rather than Veteran’s Affairs? Language addressing set offs for governmental or pubic pensions do not seem to include military pensions as subject to such claims. The other source language does change, so which is operative, the year that I go on disability even though there is no pension there, the one in effect when I turn 60 and can make a claim for the pension. Note thatI must apply it will not be started automatically or some other effective time frame. I do not believe that the carrier is entitled to cash in for those years that I served my country for free. Your thoughts with any relevant case citations would be welcome.

Attorney Stephen Jessup:


“Veteran Benefits” as defined in long term disability policies only include monetary disability benefits from the VA. Some policies allow for setoff due to retirement plans. As to whether your Pension would qualify, it would be impossible to know or advise without first reviewing the policy.


I’m on std with job and I’m 60 percent disabled with va. Can Aetna find out about my va disablity?

Attorney Alex Palamara:

Adrian, potentially and in all likelihood they will. Your policy will govern whether such benefits are an offset. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact our office and have a copy of the policy available.

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