If you’re a veteran who is a wounded warrior, the Social Security Administration (SSA) creates allowances for you to receive Social Security disability and VA disability at the same time.
In fact, the SSA speeds up the claims for wounded warriors and military service members who have become disabled while actively serving on or after October 1, 2001 (regardless of where your disability occurred).
What types of programs does the SSA offer for wounded warriors?
The SSA offers two programs for wounded warriors:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If you qualify, this program provides benefits to you and your family if you’ve paid Social Security taxes and worked enough.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you qualify medically, this program pays benefits, even if you haven’t worked enough but express a dire financial need.
How do you medically qualify for these benefits?
Per the SSA definition, a disability means you are unable to do work because of your medical condition. Your disability must affect you for at least one year and must completely disable you and prevent you from performing basic daily functions. Learn more about qualifying for disability benefits here.
Fortunately, some of your family members may also be able to get benefits. These conditions must apply:
- Your spouse can qualify if they are 62 years of age or older, or if they are caring for your child who is under the age of 16, or disabled.
- Your children can qualify as long as they are unmarried and under the age of 18 (or 19 if they are in school full time). If your child is unmarried but over the age of 18, they can still qualify if they have a disability that began before the age of 22.
There are specific situations where the SSA may provide leniency with benefits. For example, they may offer benefits to stepchildren or grandchildren, or a divorced spouse who is still unmarried, is at least 62 years old, and was married to you for at least 10 years.
Can I receive military pay and still qualify for disability benefits?
Eligibility depends on how much work you’re able to perform. Your military duty status or pay you get from the military doesn’t factor into the SSA’s decision to approve your disability. If you’re disabled and receiving VA benefits, you should still apply for Social Security disability (even if you’re on limited duty).
How do I apply?
You can apply for benefits while on active duty or during military discharge. Either way, you’re probably going through treatment at a hospital, rehab center, or outpatient treatment center. You can apply by going up to your local Social Security office, by mail, phone, or online.
To make sure the application process goes smoothly (and quickly), you’ll want to be prepared with items you may need. Organized, clear, and concise medical documentation is key to making the best of your application. Examples of important items are birth certificates, income tax returns, proof of military pay, etc. Make it known right off the bat that you are a military member, so the process will be quicker.
If you want additional assistance applying for disability benefits as a wounded warrior, Disability Associates has your back! Tracey Pate has over 28 years of experience in this field of expertise, and dedicates her time to making sure the process is easy and stress free. Contact us today!