Disabled veterans are able to collect veterans’ disability benefits at the same time as collecting Social Security Disability (SSD) without their benefit amount from either program being affected. Because a disability has such substantial implications for everyday life and the ability to hold a job, most veterans will eventually need to apply for SSD benefits. If you’re a disabled vet and need to apply for SSD, you’ll need to understand how the SSD application process works.
Applying for Social Security Disability
Many individuals decide to file their initial application for SSD using the online application process on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) website. You can also call the SSA for assistance in filing your application for benefits, or visit your local branch office for further assistance. If you need helping finding your local office, check out the social security office locator page.
It is important to realize though that disabled veterans are actually entitled to apply for disability benefits through a separate process in which a disability examiner will handle their claim rather than going through the standard disability review procedure with the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. Both processes are available for disabled veterans and you can pursue benefits through the standard application procedure if you so choose.
Veterans can Expedite Their Application with the SSA
If you’re a vet applying for SSD, you can file a form I-2-1-95, which is a Critical Request Evaluation Sheet. This form puts your application in the queue for expedited processing. After filing your form, your case will be assigned to a disability examiner. He or she will then be responsible for contacting your doctor(s) to obtain medical records. The examiner is also responsible for making the determination on your eligibility for SSD benefits.
Your Medical Records and the Social Security Administration
Being approved for SSD benefits requires the SSA has access to all your medical records. Unfortunately, Veterans Affairs medical centers are not always forthcoming in providing the SSA access to the records they need to make a determination on your claim for disability. This means you may need to obtain the records yourself and provide them to the SSA’s disability examiner so he or she has all the documentation necessary to make an accurate determination on your eligibility within a relatively short period of time.
Seeking Legal Help with a Veteran’s SSD Application
An attorney can assist you in filing your initial application with the SSA and can help you decide which application procedure may be in your best interest. He or she can also keep tabs on the status of your claim and can be instrumental in the review process by assisting you in obtaining all the documentation you need to support your claim for SSD benefits.
It’s crucial to understand that even most disabled vets receive a denial following their initial review for SSD benefits. This is the reason that hiring a Social Security disability attorney or seeking the assistance of a disability advocate is so important when filing your claim.
The appeals process can take months, even years in some cases. Hiring an attorney can significantly decrease the chance you’ll be denied during your initial review. If you are denied benefits at first, an SSD attorney can increase the chances you’re appeal will be successful and may be able to shorten your wait for a determination on your eligibility as well.