Social Security Disability and Veterans

There are some things worth mentioning when it comes to Social Security Disability for veterans.

On this page I will provide some interesting statistics on veterans in relation to Social Security.  I will also talk about how depending on when you served how a veterans work credits are treated when computing eligibility for Social Security and benefit amounts.  I will also discuss special benefits for certain World War II veterans.  I have recently added frequently asked questions with answers about SSD and SSI disability benefits for veterans and military members.

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Some interesting Statistics about veterans and Social Security.

One quarter of Adult Social Security beneficiaries are Veterans.  Of the total population of adult Social Security beneficiaries 40% are made up of veterans and their families.  Since 1957 military personnel have been covered under Social Security.

How are Social Security work credits handled for veterans?

If a veteran served in 2001 or earlier their earnings receive special credits for purpose of computing Social Security benefits.  Credits equal $300 for each quarter of active duty pay for those who served between 1957 and 1977.  If you served between 1978 and 2001 you receive credits equal to an additional $100 in earnings for each $300 you received in active duty pay ( total credits may not exceed $1,200 a year).  Starting in 2002 credits are not supplemented.

For those veterans who served before the military was included under the Social Security system in 1957 Congress has provided credits for those on active duty from September 1940 to 1956.  These veterans are credited with $160 of earnings for purpose of computing Social Security benefits.

Special Veterans Benefits for certain World War II Vets.

Special Veterans Benefits (SVB) are benefits funded by the Federal Government and are administered by the Social Security Administration. Under the SVB program, special benefits are paid to certain veterans of World War II who reside outside the United States.

SVB is authorized by Title VIII (Special Benefits for Certain World War II Veterans) of the Social Security Act.

 SVB is not the same as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It is a separate benefit program and is financed from the general funds of the United States Treasury.

Can you get both Social Security Benefits and Military Retirement?

Yes, and generally there is no reduction in your Social Security Benefits due to your Military Retirement.  In other words you get full Social Security benefits based on your earnings.  If you have health care benefits from the Department of Veteran's Affairs your health care benefits may end or change when you become eligible for Medicare.

Is proving I am disabled for Social Security Disability or SSI different for veterans?

No, the definition of disability,  proof required, and eligibility is the same as every other claim for Social Security Disability and SSI benefits.  The only difference for veterans is the way work credits are calculated as explained above.  To find out how Social Security determines if you are disabled and for tips on how to win a Social Security Disability claim explore this site.

Questions and Answers: SSDI (SSD) and SSI for Veterans and Military Service Members

Can you get Social Security Disability benefits and VA compensation benefits?

Yes, you can receive both SSDI benefits and VA compensation benefits at the same time.  However, VA pension and SSI (supplemental security income) are different and are needs based programs, so Social Security will count VA pension when calculating SSI.  Social Security Disability benefits may also reduce or eliminate VA pension amounts.  This is a quick review of these programs and if you are not sure what benefits you have it can be quite confusing.  If you are a veteran and getting or applying for VA pension or SSI than you should speak to a lawyer to fully explain how they may be affected by other benefits.

Will military pay affect eligibility for Social Security disability benefits?

Although you cannot perform substantial gainful activity and be eligible for Social Security disability, this does not mean you can't be eligible if you receive military pay. Active duty status and receipt of military pay does not, in itself, necessarily prevent payment of disability benefits. Substantial gainful activity means you are getting paid or making a profit due to substantial work activity. If you are receiving treatment at a military medical facility and working in a designated therapy program or on limited duty, Social Security will evaluate your work activity to determine your eligibility for benefits. In other words, the main factor that determines if you are performing substantial gainful activity is the work activity you are doing and not the pay you receive or your military duty status.

What information does a veteran or present member of the military need to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits?

Let me start by telling you that even if you do not have all the documents and information I am about to list, if you are disabled you should still apply as soon as possible. You will need your original or certified copy of your birth certificate or proof of US citizenship or legal residency if foreign-born. If you are discharge from the military you will need your DD 214. You also need your W-2 form or income tax return from last year. You should also have any military or workers compensation and include proof of payment. SSA will also need the Social Security numbers of your spouse and minor children. Social Security will also want a checking or savings account number if you have one. They would also need the name address and phone number of a contact person in case you are unavailable and medical records that you have and/or that you can easily obtained from all military and civilian sources. If you have difficulty obtaining any of this information Social Security should help you get the missing information.

How does a veteran or military member apply for SSDI or SSI benefits?

The first thing you should know is you can apply at any time while in military status or after discharge. This includes whether you are still hospitalized, in a rehabilitation program, or undergoing outpatient treatment in the military or civilian medical facility. You can apply online at the Social Security website. You can also apply at your local or closest Social Security office by calling 1-800-772-1213 and make an appointment. You can also call a Social Security disability lawyer to help you with your claim. It helps if you find a lawyer who handles both Social Security disability and VA claims. If you have any questions or need help with your application feel free to call me at 1-877-527-5529 as I handle both VA compensation and Social Security disability claims.

Is there anything you can do to speed up your Social Security disability decision?

Because your claim is a military service member claim it will be identified as such and entitle you to an expedited process. It has been my experience in helping veterans and service-members with their applications for Social Security disability benefits, that they do indeed get quicker decisions than those who have not served.  Make sure to include your military service on your application were it asks for it to be sure to get the quicker application process you are entitled to. To further speed up your case do your best to help Social Security get all the information necessary and keep them updated as to any changes in your address, doctors, hospitals or other information.

How does Medicare affect my TRICARE?

If you are entitled to Medicare, you should contact the Department of Defense to find out how this may affect your TRICARE benefits. You may need to be enrolled in Medicare Part B (medical insurance) to keep your TRICARE coverage. For general information about this coverage, please visit the TRICARE website.  If you have been awarded retroactive disability benefits, you should contact the Department of Defense to find out whether you need to elect retroactive Medicare Part B so you can keep your TRICARE.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 provides for a 12-month Medicare Part B special enrollment period for TRICARE beneficiaries who are entitled to Medicare Part A. The Department of Defense will notify eligible individuals about this period.

Social Security Disability Expedited Process for Veterans.

Expedited process for military service members who have become disabled in the line of duty on or after October 1, 2001.

If you have become disabled in the line of duty after October 1, 2001 you are entitled to an expedited decision making process through Social Security disability. It does not matter whether your disability happened abroad or in the states as long as you have become disabled while serving after the date above then you are entitled to this expedited process. If you are applying for Social Security disability benefits and you qualify under the above criteria you should make sure to ask for the expedited process. Social Security is supposed to do this automatically but it is a good idea to mention it on your application to make sure it is implemented. I have handle a few of these types of cases and they are certainly decided quicker than the average Social Security disability claim.

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We have attempted to provide up to date and accurate information, however the information in this site is not guaranteed.  No attorney client relationship exist.  The information in this site is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified attorney.
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If you are a veteran and want a lawyer that handles both VA and Social Security Disability claims call me at 1-877-527-5529.