Social Security benefits are designed to provide a modest income for people who are severely disabled. Many are not aware that, even as a veteran, you may be eligible for disability from Social Security if you meet specific criteria.
As of March 17, 2014, veterans who the Veterans Administration have determined have a 100 percent permanent and total disability may have their applications for Social Security benefits expedited. When you apply as a veteran who is VA 100% Permanent and Total disabled, the system automatically expedites the processing of that application. It is possible that you may have to prove that you meet that rating by providing the VA notification letter.
What Is VA 100% Permanent and Total Disability?
It is important to note that just because you have the disability rating with the VA, you may not automatically qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Social Security has very strict requirements for what qualifies as a disability, and they differ from the VA. In order to qualify for Social Security disability, you must be unable to do substantial work because of your condition and your condition must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least a year.
A disability that will result in death also qualifies you for Social Security disability. VA compensation will not have any impact on your Social Security benefits.
How Long Does It Take?
There are several factors that may impact how long it takes for you to know if you qualify for Social Security disability. These include:
• Nature of your disability
• Need for medical examination
• Response from healthcare providers
Military members who become disabled while on active duty may also have their request for Social Security disability expedited. As of October 1, 2001, this expedited process occurs no matter where the disability occurs. It is also possible you can receive Social Security disability even if your health has improved. This is called a “closed period of disability.”
You must be able to establish with medical evidence that you were unable to engage in substantial work for at least one year and that your health improved before the disability could be determined. The application must be filed within 14 months after the disability ends, and there is a five-month waiting period before you receive your first monthly benefit for a closed period of disability.
If you are still active duty military despite your disability, your military pay will not have an impact on your Social Security disability. If you are receiving treatment at a military facility which includes a designated therapy program or you are on limited duty, Social Security evaluates your work activity in order to determine your benefits, not your military pay. Keep in mind that if you can do substantial work for pay, you may not qualify for Social Security disability.
How Do I Apply for Wounded Warrior Benefits?
You need to file an application with Social Security and you will need to provide:
• Certified copy of birth certificate
• Checking or savings account numbers
• Form DD214, if discharged
• Medical records
• Proof of military pay
• Social Security numbers for spouse and minor children
• W-2 or income tax return
Once your application is received it is reviewed by medical and vocational experts who contact your healthcare providers in order to obtain additional medical records. You may have to undergo an additional examination or test which will be conducted at no cost to you.
If you are a veteran who has become disabled, whether during your service or after you left the military, click here for free resources for disabled veterans.