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Are Veterans Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?

The brave men and women in our military not only deserve our gratitude for their service, but also all the care we can provide. This means providing them with the appropriate benefits should they become disabled during service.

When many people think of benefits owed to our veterans they think of medical treatment, but this is often not enough. Unfortunately, thousands of members of our military come home from war and are unable to work due to a disability.

veteran disabilityIf a veteran, or anyone else who meets the requirements, becomes disabled then he/she could qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Federal law requires this very strict definition of disability. Certain family members of disabled workers can also receive money from SSA. Veterans may be eligible to receive SSDI benefits in addition to the Veteran’s benefits they are entitled to receive.

If you are a veteran, then you should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. It can take a long time to process an application for disability benefits – the SSA estimates three to five months, but it could take even longer.

Now, through the Wounded Warrior program, SSA expedites the processing of disability claims of current military service members or veterans disabled while on active duty on or after Oct. 1, 2001. Also, service members and veterans who have a Veterans Administration (VA) compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent and Total may receive expedited processing of applications for SSDI benefits.

Since this expedited process applies only to the application for benefits, you must meet the SSA’s strict definition of “disability.” This means you must be unable to do substantial work because of your medical condition, which must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or to result in death.

Once you have applied for SSDI, the SSA will review your application to make sure you meet some basic requirements for disability benefits. They will check whether you worked enough years to qualify, and will also evaluate any current work activities. If you meet these requirements, SSA will process your application and forward your case to the Disability Determination Services office in your state.

If you disagree with a decision made on your claim, you can appeal it. But this can be a long and complicated process that will involve additional documentation and a hearing. If you are successful in your appeal, then you may be eligible for benefits retroactively. If you, or someone you know, are disabled, then it is important that you consult with an experienced professional before applying for SSDI to ensure a successful outcome.

By Eric J. Einhart – Guest Blogger

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