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Expedited Social Security Benefits for Veterans

Starting in mid March, the Social Security Administration will give priority to Social Security Disability claims filed by some veterans.

SSD applications from veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent and Total will be processed faster than other claims, the Social Security Administration announced last week. These application will be given the same priority as those filed by wounded warriors.

In the past, disabled veterans have been caught in the same Social Security disability backlog as other applicants, sometimes waiting as long as two years before they begin receiving much-needed benefits.

At this point, we don’t know how quickly eligible veterans will be approved for benefits, particularly if they’re subjected to the same red tape of denial, appeal, reconsideration and hearing that most Social Security Disability applicants face.

U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, who pushed for the changes in how veterans’ claims are processed, told the Baltimore Sun an initial decision could be issued within days of an application being filed. The wait time for an initial decision is about 120 days. 

“Sarbanes says he expects veterans will be seen by an agency employee for an initial interview within three days of filing a claim and that they’ll receive a determination about their financial eligibility for benefits in a matter of days.”

It’s important to note that having a 100 percent VA disability rating does not guarantee Social Security benefits for veterans. But you should get a decision quicker, thanks to these new rules. For more about VA benefits and Social Security Disability benefits, see our most recent newsletter, available as a PDF download.

If you are a disabled veteran, you still may be eligible for Social Security Disability — no matter what your rating.

If you’re a veteran who has been approved for VA benefits, SSD must consider that as evidence. But the SSD judge isn’t required to accept your disability rating and will make an independent decision as to your disability.

Social Security looks at you as a whole, so you don’t have to be considered disabled from one specific injury or illness. Instead, you can be considered disabled if the “combination of impairments” you have make it so you cannot work.

According to the Baltimore Sun article, “fully disabled veterans accounted for about 10 percent of all veterans who received disability benefits from the VA in 2012, the last year for which data are available. That’s about 360,000 people. But many of them might already be receiving Social Security benefits.

 

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