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Understanding issues related to veterans and SSD

The Social Security disability system provides a very important function for many disabled individuals who are not able to work as a result of their disability. There are special considerations related to veterans and Social Security Disability, especially regarding veterans who became disabled while on active military service.

First of all, all veterans who suffered a disability on or after October 1, 2001, are eligible for expedited processing of their SSD claims if the disability was suffered while the veteran was on active duty. Veterans who wish to receive this expedited processing should inform the SSA that they suffered the disability while on active military duty at the time they submit their claim for benefits. Claims can be expedited in this way regardless of whether they are filed online or in paper form.

Veterans should also understand that the receipt of disability benefits through Social Security is different from benefits associated with the Department of Veterans affairs. Two separate applications are required if veterans wish to apply for both types of benefits, and receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs will not affect eligibility for SSD benefits.

The Department of Veterans Affairs issues its own compensation rating for veterans who have become disabled and are seeking benefits. Although a compensation rating of 100 percent permanent and total from the VA will entitle a veteran to receive expedited processing of his or her application for Social Security disability benefits, the VA compensation rating has no bearing on whether the application for SSD benefits will be approved. Veterans must still satisfy the SSD criteria for eligibility in order to receive benefits, which means that they must show that they are not able to do work because of their medical condition and that the condition has lasted or is anticipated to last for one year or more. Because the eligibility criteria relates to ability to do "substantial work," being on active duty status or receiving military pay does not guarantee-in itself-that a veteran will not be eligible for SSD benefits.

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