Over the years, military servicemen and women have put their lives on the line, have been exposed to deadly toxins and have suffered injuries in a desire to keep those back home safe. As many of these veterans age, they find themselves struggling with serious health concerns as well as disabling conditions. These conditions can leave veterans struggling financially and for many, the long wait associated with applying for Social Security Disability may put them in dire straits.
The Social Security Administration has set up a wounded warriors program to assist military members who are disabled. The program applies to people who have suffered a disabling injury after October 2001. While it does not guarantee automatic approval on disability applications, the program does move those applications to the top of the pile, ensuring that military members receive an answer on their application at a faster rate than other applicants – sometimes in a matter of days.
In order to qualify for the wounded warriors program, applicants must show that they were on active duty when they were injured. However, the injury, itself, does not need to be service-related. For example, if a military member was involved in a car accident on a weekend furlough, that person would still be eligible for this program.
Veterans from earlier service did not receive that same courtesy from SSA but starting last month, the SSA announced that all veterans will now be entitled to priority status on their Social Security Disability application. The change is estimated to affect tens of thousands of veterans from all military organizations. The Baltimore Sun reports that 360,000 veterans receive Veterans Administration benefits for full disability but it is suspected that a large number of this group is not receiving SSD benefits.
The new policy will only apply to veterans with a 100 percent disability rating from the VA. However, veteran supporters applaud the new policy, pointing out that many veterans have to wait for a year or longer in order to receive an answer as to whether they qualify. Now, they will be able to move faster through the application process which means that if they are denied SSD benefits, they will be able to file an appeal quicker. It is unknown whether the injury or condition leading to the disability must be military-related for veterans to take advantage of the new policy.
Applying for SSD benefits can be a complicated and lengthy process. Any type of error or missing information can lead to a denial and the applicant must start all over again with an appeal process. When people are preparing to file for SSD they should speak with an experienced attorney for guidance.