The Veterans Administration and Social Security Disability Pair Up
Disabilities are common among many veterans. Injuries leading to disabilities come from both physical and mental trauma. Our warriors wounded in combat receive assistance from the Veterans Administration (VA), to help mitigate these problems. And they also receive expedited processing of their disability claims by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA has issued an announcement that all veterans with 100% disability, incurred from combat or non-combat situations, will receive expedited review of their Social Security Disability (SSD) application.
Service members receive VA benefits and VA medical assistance, and any service member who is using VA services for a disability has a disability rating. This disability rating is not taken into consideration regarding the timing of when a veteran's SSD application is reviewed. As with any other applicant, all service members must submit a request and the pertinent medical records to the SSA and wait for review like any other applicant. SSA instituted an expedited review process for veterans wounded in combat. Wounded warriors are not automatically granted SSD, but their applications are put at the top of the pile for review. This expedited review was limited to only those wounded due to combat. Now, the expedited review process is being expanded to not only our wounded warriors, but also to service members who became disabled “while in military service. Heart attacks, cancer, off base automobile accidents, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney failure, etc.” It should be noted that disabilities caused by “the veteran's own willful misconduct or abuse of alcohol or drugs” are excluded from this expedited review process.
Social Security Announcement
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, announced on February 19, 2014, that the SSA was initiating a new SSD disability claims process for veterans who had received a “disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent and Total. … In order to receive the expedited service, veterans must tell Social Security they have a VA disability compensation rating of 100% P&T and show proof of their disability rating with their VA Notification Letter.” In the announcement, the SSA notes that “the VA rating only expedites Social Security disability claims processing and does not guarantee an approval for Social Security disability benefits. These veterans must still meet the strict eligibility requirements for a disability allowance.” The new review process will begin on March 17, 2014. This sounds like a boon to veterans, in that it will provide a quicker review of their initial application for SSD benefits. But there are some who disapprove of elevating one class of individuals over others with this expedited review process. “To expedite disability claims for one group of people is to delay them for everyone else, which is no minor matter when we consider the severity of the backlogs at Social Security. Vets receiving 100% service connected VA benefits for non-combat related disabilities are undeserving of this special attention because they already have substantial incomes of more than $2,800 per month. They can be hurting somewhat financially but most Social Security disability claimants are hurting much worse because they do not have any disability benefit from their former employer.” If you have applied for benefits, need assistance applying for benefits, or want to appeal a benefit denial, contact our experienced attorney to help you navigate the SSD process