For all the sacrifices veterans and their families have made, they are entitled to special privileges. One way the U.S. tries to give back to these heroes is by paying them disability benefits if they return injured, be it physically or emotionally, and expediting their claims. Both the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) help take care of veterans who need it, but they do so in different ways.
Comparing the VA and SSA Disability Programs
Expediting Your Claim as a Veteran
Your status as a veteran can affect your Social Security disability application process. If the VA has rated you 100% P&T (permanently and totally) disabled or if you are a Wounded Warrior (injured on active duty on or after October 1, 2001), then your claim can be expedited. The SSA should automatically recognize if you fall into either of these categories; however, sometimes it fails to do so. Make sure the SSA knows you are 100% P&T or a Wounded Warrior by following the tips below:
If 100% P&T Disabled
- Be sure to identify yourself as a “veteran rated 100% P&T” when you apply for benefits. Tell the Social Security representative if you are applying in person on by phone. If you apply online, comment in the “Remarks” section that you are a “Veteran 100% P&T.”
- Provide proof of your rating by submitting a copy of your VA notification letter.
If a Wounded Warrior
The SSA website suggests you do the following to speed up your claim:
- Tell the administration immediately that you incurred your disability while on active military duty,
- Be prepared with information about doctors you’ve seen as well as the address of the military site that keeps your records, and
- Update the SSA with any changes in your contact info or medical treatments while they process your claim.