If you are a veteran who proudly served this country, there are financial resources available if you can no longer work due to a service related injury or disability. If you are a veteran who is a wounded warrior, you may be eligible for additional benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) on top of any benefits you are receiving from the VA.
The benefits you could receive from the SSA are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you are a wounded warrior, you are able to have your claim for Social Security disability benefits expedited from the SSA.
Here is an expanded look on how wounded warriors can qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
What Branches of the Military are Available?
Wounded warriors from all branches of the military are eligible for expedited claims for the SSA, as long as the person applying was on active duty when they became disabled.
The SSA classifies active duty military service as serving on active duty, active duty for training (ACDUTRA) or if you were a part of the U.S. military reserve force in the following organizations:
- Air Force
- Coast Guard
- United Sates Coast and Geodetic Survey (USC&GS)
- National Guard
- Commissioned Officers in the Public Health Service (PHS)
The Social Security Programs Explained
Wounded warriors will have to apply for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the two programs are very different.
SSDI benefits are for those who at one point were able to work full time, but now cannot because of a disability or a severe ailment. You first must be deemed disabled by the SSA.
Common conditions that get approved for SSDI benefits are musculoskeletal disorders like degenerative disc disease and amputations, as well as forms of cancer. A big factor that goes into the qualification process for SSDI benefits are work credits, since SSDI benefits are for those who at one point were able to work a full-time job.
You must have an efficient amount of work credits in order to qualify. Work credits are calculated by your age and how many years you worked. Earning work credits is easier than you think, if you have earned at least $1,360 in one year, you will earn 1 credit. The most amount of work credits you can earn in a year is four.
SSI benefits are for those with a disability or ailment that will force them to being unable to work and are in severe financial restraint. Like SSDI, in order to qualify for SSI benefits you must be deemed disabled by the SSA.
Common conditions that get approved for SSI benefits are mental conditions like depression and PTSD. The most important factor that goes into the qualification process for SSI benefits is income. You should know that income is the number one reason why SSI benefits are denied.
SSI benefits are reserved only for those are in financial stress, so there are very strict financial requirements. Unlike SSDI, you can qualify for SSI benefits regardless of any work history.
Medical Requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits
After you meet the technical requirements for Social Security disability benefits, you must also meet the medical requirements needed to qualify. When you apply, the SSA will refer to their own medical guide which is informally referred to as the Blue Book.
The SSA will compare your disability/ailment to the listing(s) they have in the Blue Book. If they believe it matches, you will get approved for Social Security disability benefits. You may want to consult the Blue Book listing with your primary care or specialist before applying for Social Security disability benefits.
How to Qualify for Expedited Processing
Wounded warriors are eligible for expedited processing and payments from the SSA. Veterans who are eligible for expedited processing are those who became disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of how and where the disability occurs. (i.e., United States or on foreign soil) The disability does not need to be related to any injuries resulted from combat.
Also, if your VA compensation rating is 100%, you may also be approved for expedited processing if your service related injury or disability does not fall within that threshold. If your claim gets expedited, then it could get approved in as little as 10 days.
Factors that go into expedited claims are the nature of your disability, how fast the SSA gets all of your medical records and evidence and whether or not the SSA needs to send you for a medical examination.
If the information you provide the SSA is organized and presented clearly, it will be easier for the SSA to locate your medical records. An incomplete application due to incorrect information or missing medical documents will slow down your application process, making you to wait longer for the financial assistance you need.
How to Start Your Application
Applying for Social Security disability benefits if you are wounded warrior is a lot more easy and straightforward then all the qualification parameters. To apply, simply create a mySSA account on the SSA’s website and apply there.
You also have the option of applying in person at your local SSA office. It’s recommended that you call ahead to schedule an appointment beforehand. If you apply in person, the field officer will identify and flag the wounded warrior case.
If you are applying in person, the wounded warrior flag is found at POMS DI 11005.006. POMS Is the acronym for Program Operations Manual System, which is information used by SSA employees to process potential claims for Social Security benefits.
If you are applying online, the wounded warrior flag is found by the “Military Casualty/Wounded Warrior” flag in the eView. If you have any questions regarding your application, you can call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to speak with a representative on the phone.
When you get approved for Social Security disability benefits, you can focus on the thing that matters the most: your health.