Service members and veterans who qualify for SSDI and SSI may be able to receive fast-track processing. The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) provides links covering SSDI and SSI, presenting a current and brief overview of the two programs, including veterans with disabilities. Expedited processing is available to former and current military personnel who qualify.
2 Social Security VA Qualification Categories
The first category is known as Wounded Warriors. You can qualify if your military service was on or after October 1, 2001, and you became disabled during active duty. Your disability or injury does not need to be combat-related. It simply must have occurred during the above time frame during a period of active service.
The second category is 100 percent P&T. To qualify, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must deem you fully disabled. Fully disabled means you have a 100 percent permanent and total compensation rating.
Other VA Social Security Criteria
In addition to meeting one, or both of these conditions for fast-tracking, the applications must receive approval under these two definitions:
- Social Security’s disability definition is that a medical condition or injury prevents you from doing substantial gainful activity expected to last a minimum of 12 months or result in death.
- Alternative eligibility criteria to qualify for SSDI or SSI regarding financial assets, income, or work history.
Online VA Benefits Applications
When applying for a fast-track veteran’s claim, you do not specifically request to expedite the process. Typically, veterans will apply online, and the electronic sharing of medical records with the Department of Defense and the VA is most often automatically flagged for wounded warriors and veterans with 100 percent P&T ratings by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
However, the SSA does recommend notifying the agency directly if you were injured on active duty or qualify as P&T. There is an area in the “Remarks” section of the online application for disability benefits. You can also relay the information while speaking to an SSA representative in person or on the phone. Be ready with your VA letter confirming your status to provide to the Social Security Administration.
Claim Approval and Processing
When your claim meets fast-track approval, the SSA state and field offices rush the process to make disability determinations. The length of decision-time depends on alternate factors such as:
- Type of disability
- Time it takes the SSA to gather your medical records and other evidence of your condition
- Requirements for further medical exams necessary to support your claim
It is important to remember that although your application process may receive fast-tracking, a 100 percent P&T rating does not guarantee approval by the SSA for your disability claim. Still, a fast-track status will remain throughout your entire application process. Even if you receive an initial denial for your claim, the SSA will continue to expedite your appeals. It is also important to understand that while you may receive disability benefits from both the VA and Social Security, in some cases, one may affect your eligibility and benefit amounts for the other.
The services of a veteran’s attorney or disability attorney specializing in veteran benefits can guide you through the complexity of applying for and receiving benefits from the VA and Social Security. Even the online process can be lengthy and requires collecting many documents. Your lawyer can assess your unique situation, ensuring the application is complete and helping you receive the most benefits possible during the fast-track process.
There is also a process to expedite claims if you are a veteran living abroad. More information is available on the SSA website. You can find useful information and read through frequently asked questions. However, for the best protection possible to expedite your veteran Social Security disability claim, meet with your veteran disability lawyer, who is familiar with the eligibility and complexity of SSA and VA programs. For assistance, please contact our Wichita office at 316-830-5603.