By Adam J. Allegro, Esq.1
Some of the most fulfilling cases in my practice involve successfully representing our military men and women seeking Social Security disability benefits resulting from severe physical or psychological injuries caused during active duty military service. Unfortunately, along the way, I have also found that a shocking number of military veterans and injured active duty personnel are unaware that they may have the right to receive BOTH military V.A. disability benefits AND Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) simultaneously.
Although the SSDI process has slightly different rules and regulations from military disability standards, much like V.A. disability benefits, SSDI can be very beneficial in supporting a warrior and her/his family during a very difficult time.
FOUR KEY FACTS ABOUT THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROGRAM:
- If you were injured during a period in which you were serving active duty, you will likely qualify under the wounded warrior program (representatives from the V.A. or administrative military personnel should be able to direct you as to filing an application for SSDI benefits). The wounded warrior process also encompasses claims made by those who have ended service, including those already given a military disability rating and those already receiving V.A. disability benefits;
- Unlike a standard civilian SSDI claim, the wounded warrior process will allow a warrior’s initial application for benefits and, if necessary, his/her subsequent appeals, to move through the process in a more streamlined, expedited manner. As such, despite the fact that an SSDI claim may take an average of two years to complete (if it goes through the entire appellate process and requires a hearing), a wounded warrior’s case will generally be reviewed and decided much faster;
- Military personnel who have already been given a V.A. disability rating and are receiving disability pay from the military typically can still receive the full advantage of SSDI benefits in addition to their military disability benefits; and
- Even if a warrior is receiving pay from the military, they may still qualify for SSDI benefits, so long as the warrior is not capable of working full-time. As such, part-time work (limited to smaller levels of pay for actual work and limited in amount of hours worked) may not disqualify a claimant from SSDI. Further, pay for military duty that is NOT directly paid for actual work being done may still permit a wounded warrior to receive SSDI benefits, as the SSA looks at the actual work done and compensation from that work, not merely the income a person is receiving.
From my experience, there are few things more rewarding than assisting those injured during their service for our country in the fight to get the benefits they have earned and truly deserve.