By Debbie Gregory
There are currently more Veterans than ever requiring VA disability assistance. The vast majority of Veterans with service-connected disabilities are rated by the VA with a 70% to100% disability compensation rating. These statistics are solely made up of Veterans using their VA disability benefits. Disabled Veterans need to be made aware that they are also eligible to collect Social Security disability benefits.
Eligibility for Social Security disability benefits is separate from VA disability, and receiving one does not disqualify you from receiving the other. Disabled Veterans can, in fact, receive both federal benefits at the same time, so long as they meet each benefit’s disability criteria. Recently, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) made it even faster for disabled Veterans to receive Social Security disability benefits.
On March 17, 2014, the SSA began expediting disability claims that were filed by Veterans who have already received a disability compensation rating of 100% (Permanent and Total). Veterans should note that the VA rating does not guarantee an automatic approval on an SSA disability claim. To be approved for SSA disability, claimants must meet the SSA’s criteria for being disabled.
Claimants are deemed to be disabled by the SSA if they are unable to work because of their medical condition, and their medical condition lasts (or is expected to last) for a minimum of one year, or will result in their death. Again, VA approval or denial of a disability claim will have no effect on an SSA disability claim.
To file a disability claim with the U.S. Social Security Administration, visit their site at www.socialsecurity.gov or utilize their online application portal. Claimants can also call 1-800-772-1213 (Hearing impaired individuals can call TTY 1-800-325-0778).
In person applications are also accepted at local Social Security offices, however, you should call ahead and make an appointment.
Veterans with 100% P&T ratings from the VA, who wish to have their Social Security disability claim expedited, will need to identify themselves as such by either telling the SSA representative in person or over the phone, or by entering “Veteran 100% P&T” in the “Remarks” section of the online application. Veterans will also need to provide proof of their 100% P&T rating by providing the VA notification letter when asked by the SSA.
The SSA does not provide a guaranteed timeline of expedited Veteran disability claims. All claims differ due to nature of the disability, the amount of time it takes for doctors to verify the disability, and whether or not follow up examinations are required to approve or deny a claim.
Please make use of all of the resources available to you through every federal, state and local government agency and non-profit organizations. Also utilize MilitaryConnection.com to connect with all of the resources and benefits available.
Disabled Veterans are most deserving of any assistance that we as a nation can offer them.
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