According to the Baltimore Sun, the Social Security Administration (SSA) plans to streamline its review of disability claims for veterans starting next month, shaving weeks off the process by which it determines benefits.
The Sun reported that veterans who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, who have been deemed fully disabled by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, would experience an expedited determination process.
“It’s not clear exactly how many people would be affected by the policy, but the Social Security Administration estimates it could be tens of thousands of veterans over time,” the Sun reported. “Fully disabled veterans accounted for about 10 percent of all veterans who received disability benefits from the VA in 2012, the last year for which data are available. That’s about 360,000 people. But many of them might already be receiving Social Security benefits.”
Under the changes, applicants who have been deemed 100 percent disabled by the VA are to be put on a “fast track” at every step of the process. The VA uses a structured percentage system to determine if someone is disabled, meaning a veteran can be 50, 60 or even 100 percent disabled.
Carolyn W. Colvin, the acting commissioner of the SSA, was set to announce the policy change in Baltimore recently.
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It should be noted that the SSA uses an “all or nothing” approach when it comes to determining whether a person qualifies for SSDI. If you are receiving benefits because the VA considers you a lower percentage of disabled, it may be a strong indication that you are not eligible for SSDI benefits.
In the Sun article, reporters talked to one veteran, Maj. Robert Fessock, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Maryland National Guard. He survived a hotel bombing, processed bodies from suicide attacks and pulled dead soldiers from a burning vehicle, and now suffers from anxiety, flashbacks and debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to the Sun, the VA awarded Fessock a 70 percent disability rating. However, the SSA turned down his disability claim, which he is appealing.
If you are a veteran and you have questions about applying for disability benefits, contact a Tulsa Social Security Disability attorney. We offer free consultations, and you may reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404. Contact us today to learn more about your rights.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security Disability lawyers