Practice Areas James A. McKown Jr.

The Social Security Administration recently announced a new policy that will allow for expedited processing of disability claims for certain disabled military veterans. Applications from eligible veterans will be given high priority status, allowing those individuals to be informed of the decisions about their disability benefits eligibility more quickly.

New policy effective immediately

The new expedited claims process, which was announced by the SSA on March 18, 2014, is available to veterans whose disabilities have been rated 100 percent permanent and total by the Veterans Affairs Department. The change is effective immediately, according to an SSA news release.

In order to receive expedited processing, veterans applying for disability benefits must inform the SSA of their VA disability rating and provide documentation of the rating. Using the expedited process will not guarantee eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits - it will merely permit the applicant to receive an eligibility decision more quickly. In order to receive Social Security Disability benefits, it is still necessary to meet the SSA's strict eligibility requirements.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

In order to be approved for disability benefits through the SSA, an applicant must establish that he or she meets the agency's definition of "disabled." This involves showing that:

  • The applicant's medical condition makes it impossible to do the work that he or she did before.
  • Because of the medical condition, the applicant cannot adjust to a new line of work.
  • The medical condition causing the disability has lasted for at least a year, or is expected to last for at least a year, or is expected to result in the applicant's death.

Disabled veterans can apply for Social Security Disability benefits even if they are already collecting benefits through the VA. If they are found eligible, they can collect both types of benefits at once. However, depending on a number of factors such as the specific types of benefits involved as well as the timing of the applications, it is possible in some cases for one to affect the outcome of the other.

A lawyer may be able to help veterans maximize their benefits

Because the application process can be highly complex for both the VA and the SSA, it is often helpful for veterans to work with an experienced disability lawyer when applying for benefits. If you are interested in learning more about veteran's disability benefits for yourself or a member of your family, get in touch with a lawyer who is well versed in the intricacies of the benefits determination processes for both the SSA and the VA.