Recently, the Social Security Administration announced a new policy to expedite disability claims by veterans terry_moakleywith a VA disability compensation rating of 100% permanent and total. According to a recent announcement from Acting Commissioner of Social Security Ms. Carolyn W. Colvin, “Social Security worked with Veterans Affairs to identify those veterans with disabilities who have a high probability of also meeting our definition of disability. I am proud of our collaboration and happy to announce this new service for America’s vets.”

Benefits available from Social Security are different than those from VA. First and foremost, qualifying disabled veterans must file a separate application to the Social Security Administration to be considered for the benefits that it provides. Furthermore, veterans who receive VA benefits are not automatically eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Military veterans should apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not you have all of the documents you need. To apply, you will need to supply the Social Security Administration with information about your medical condition and your work history. You will also need to provide your birth certificate, or proof of citizenship or legal residency; your DD-214 if discharged from military service before 1968; a copy of your W-2 income tax return form; and other information. To learn more about the information needed to apply, visit the Social Security website.

Before you get too freaked out about the enormity of information that Social Security needs, three very important points cannot be emphasized enough. First, give them what documents you have from the above list NOW! You can always provide the remaining paperwork later on. Second, the very first thing you must tell them before anything else is, I AM A VETERAN RATED 100% P&T and provide them with your VA letter stating your rating. And third, according to the Social Security Administration, applying for benefits ONLINE will also speed up their decision-making process.

This should insure that your case will be expedited throughout the Social Security benefits determination process. Typically, everyone who applies for Social Security disability benefits wants to know, how long will it take?

There is no timeline provided by this federal agency, but they note on their website that three factors are critical to arrive at a decision: the nature of your disability; how quickly they obtain medical evidence from your physician or other health care provider; and, whether it is necessary to send you for a medical examination in order to obtain evidence to support your claim.

While all of the above may seem complex, please remember that if you incurred a significant disability during military service, and you cannot work as a result of your disabling condition, there is assistance available to you beyond VA. Don’t forget that Social Security disability benefits can help, too.

Terry Moakley
Chair of the VetsFirst Committee