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Can veterans receive Social Security disability benefits?

As discussed previously in this blog, Georgia veterans have a variety of benefits available at their disposal for which they may be eligible. However, it is important that veterans understand the differences between separate kinds of benefits and what Social Security disability benefits may mean for them.

First, it is important that veterans understand that they must fill out an application for Social Security benefits that is separate from the benefits that they may be eligible through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Social Security benefit claims are expedited for veterans, but they must still fill out the correct paperwork in order to apply.

Federal disability payments can come from the Social Security disability insurance program or from the Supplemental Security Income program. The latter program pays based on financial need, while the Social Security disability insurance program pays benefits only if a person has worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

When it comes to qualifying for disability payments, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a fairly strict definition of disability. More specifically, SSA determines whether a person is unable to do substantial work due to a serious medical condition. In order to qualify, the person's medical condition must last or be expected to last at least one year or result in death. Accordingly, individuals who apply for Social Security disability benefits, including veterans, must be eligible for benefit pursuant to this definition in order for their applications to be approved.

At the same time, the situation can be confusing when veterans are receiving military pay and are on active duty status. While these circumstances do not disqualify a person from receiving Social Security disability benefits, the individual's work activity may be examined by SSA to determine whether the person is eligible for benefits. Accordingly, while veterans have benefits that may be available to them, they should understand the process and what circumstances may come into play during the application process.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability benefits for wounded warriors," accessed on Nov. 30, 2014

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