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Social Security will speed up disability claims by veterans

Veterans who are disabled often can turn to both the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). The agencies have different application processes and different eligibility standards, but they have one thing in common: A backlog of cases.

That means a veteran who has been found 100 percent disabled by the VA could then have to wait months or years to find out if he or she is also eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. An announcement by Social Security could change that.

Recently, the SSA announced that it will expedite the Social Security Disability claims for veterans who have been found fully disabled by the VA. Over time, the SSA estimates, tens of thousands of veterans could be affected. In 2012, about 10 percent of veterans who received disability benefits from the VA were deemed fully disabled, although it’s unclear how many already receive Social Security benefits.

Now, veterans declared fully disabled by the VA will have nearly every stage of the process expedited, including the time for an initial interview and their determination of a financial eligibility for benefits.

They will not be more likely to receive benefits as a result of the change, since the VA and SSA have different eligibility standards. But if the new policy works, they will receive a decision on their benefits more quickly.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Social Security to expedite veteran disability claims,” Yvonne Wenger and John Fritze, Feb. 18, 2014

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