The Social Security Administration (SSA) has disability programs for people who are medically disabled and are unable to work. You should know that if you’re a veteran who’s a wounded warrior, the SSA makes allowances for you to receive Social Security disability and VA disability simultaneously. In fact, the SSA will expedite claims for military service members who have become disabled while actively serving on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where your disability has occurred.
What types of disability programs does the SSA offer?
There are two programs offered through the SSA for wounded warriors. The first is Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI. If you qualify, this program will pay benefits to you and certain family members if you worked enough and paid into the system, that is paid Social Security taxes.
The second program is Supplemental Security Income or SSI. This program will pay benefits to those who qualify medically, but perhaps haven’t worked enough and can show a financial need.
How can I medically qualify?
The SSA defines disability as an inability to do work due to your medical condition. Your disability must be expected to affect you at least one year and must completely disable you and prevent you from performing basic daily functions.
Can I receive military pay or disability and still be eligible for disability benefits?
The deciding factor that determines your eligibility is how much substantial work you’re able to do. Your military duty status or any pay you receive from the military carries no weight on whether or not the SSA may or may not approve your disability. If you’re disabled and receiving VA benefits, you should apply for Social Security disability, even if you’re on limited duty because you may qualify for benefits from the SSA.
How does my family qualify for benefits?
If you’ve worked and paid enough into Social Security, some of your family members may also be able to get benefits. Those members include:
- ● Your spouse, if they are 62 years of age or older
- ● Your spouse, if they are caring for your child who is younger than 16 years old or disabled. In this case, your spouse may be any age.
- ● Any of your children, including those who are adopted, as long as they are unmarried and younger than 18 years of age, or 19 if they are still in school full time. If your child is unmarried and over 18, they may qualify if they have a disability that began before age 22.
There are other situations where the SSA may pay benefits, such as to stepchildren or grandchildren, or a divorced spouse who remains unmarried, is at least 62 years old, and was married to you for at least 10 years. The application process can help determine if they meet what’s required to qualify.
How do I apply?
You can apply for benefits while on active duty or after your military discharge. Ideally, you’ll be undergoing treatment, either through the hospital, a rehabilitation program, or through an outpatient treatment center.
You can apply in person at your local Social Security office , by mail, online, or by telephone. You can call 1-800-772-1213 to apply or schedule an appointment.
When applying, the process will go smoother if you have all the information you need. This includes the following:
- ● Your original or certified copy of your birth certificate
- ● Your DD 214 form if you’re discharged from service
- ● Any relevant medical records from both military and civilian sources
- ● Your income tax return from the prior year
- ● Proof of your military pay
- ● The Social Security numbers of your spouse and qualifying children
- ● Your checking account number
Even if you don’t have all of these, it’s important to apply as soon as possible. Having the necessary documentation will help your case and improve your chances for a speedier approval.
You also want to inform the representative immediately that you’re a military service member. That way, they will expedite your claim, as long as they have all the required information.
You may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in helping service members to obtain disability benefits. They can offer you invaluable advice to help you get the benefits you need.