Veteran deemed “unemployable” by VA. Then he’s denied Social Security benefits, too
What do you think about this?
Britanie Leclair

Soldiers and veterans are honorable people. Every single day, thousands of these brave men and women take it upon themselves to fight for both our country and our rights.

Unfortunately, many of these selfless individuals are injured (either mentally or physically) during the call of duty, and it’s nigh time we start asking ourselves:

Are we taking care of them the way that we should be?

Daniel Norfleat is a retired US Navy Veteran, having served during the USS Lexington crash of 1989.

11Alive Screenshot
11Alive Screenshot

The crash was caused by an air craft flipping upside down and crashing into a Navy ship. According to Deseret News, the crash ultimately killed 5 people and 19 were seriously injured.

Since his Navy days, Daniel has accumulated quite a list of health issues, including a heart attack, a stroke, multiple knee surgeries, insomnia, depression, and PTSD.

He is forced to take over 2 dozen pills a day in order to cope with his conditions and has been deemed 90% disabled by the Veteran’s Association. He explains to 11Alive,

“I’m constantly going in a circle— a circle of pain.”

11Alive Screenshot
11Alive Screenshot

After being deemed disabled and unemployable by the Department of Veteran Affairs, Daniel’s application for Social Security disability benefits was approved.

At the suggestion of his lawyer, Daniel decided to apply for back-pay to cover the expenses he had accrued while waiting for his disability application to be processed.

To everyone’s surprise, however, Daniel’s application for back-pay was not only denied— he was cut off his disability benefits all together!

The Social Security administrative law judge deemed that, contrary to the Department of Veteran Affairs’ decision, Daniel could work.

The veteran tells 11Alive, “I was stunned… They’re both government agencies. So, why wouldn’t one believe the other?”


His wife Deloris elaborates, “Here’s a man who has 15 doctors, different doctors unassociated with each other, treating him for different situations, and every single one of them has concluded that he’s unable to work.”

So, why the disagreement?

According to 11Alive, The Social Security Administration changed their rules in early 2017.

Before, judges were required to state why they disagreed with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ decision. Now, an explanation is no longer necessary.

Marilyn Zahm, President of the Association of Administrative Law Judges, tells 11Alive:

“We simply don’t have to explain that the [Department of Veterans Affairs] system is different than the Social Security, and therefore we don’t give difference to their ultimate determination that an individual is disabled.”

Many believe this change will make it more difficult for veterans to appeal ruling decisions.

Tim Klob, an attorney for veterans, explains, “You can’t appeal something or challenge something if there’s no language in the decision to address it.”

Since Daniel’s story has been publicized, people have taken to social media to discuss the issue:

According to 11Alive, Daniel is now in the process of appealing his benefit denial.

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By Britanie Leclair
Britanie Leclair is a contributing writer and editor at Shareably. She is based in Northern Ontario, Canada, and can be reached at