Compassionate Guidance For
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability

Social Security disability for the wounded warrior

With three Air Force bases, three Army bases and one Marine Corps base in Arizona, there is a strong military presence in the state. Many members of the military continue to make Arizona their home after their military career ends. The Veterans Affairs website notes that there are over 560,000 veterans in the state. A number of these service members were in Iraq and Afghanistan, where many received disabling injuries. In May 2007, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued a press release announcing that it had created procedures to expedite Social Security disability claims applicable to injured military service members who became disabled in the line of duty on or after October 1, 2001.

Social Security disability benefit claims

If a soldier is disabled in the line of duty, he or she is entitled to receive Social Security disability benefits. There are two programs associated with disability benefits. One is the Social Security disability insurance program, available to individuals who have worked long enough and paid into the program through the deduction of taxes from pay. The other is the Supplemental Security Income program, which is a needs-based program.

A service member must meet the SSA’s definition of disabled to be entitled to benefits. Persons with short-term or partial disabilities do not meet the eligibility requirements. Instead “disability” is defined as inability to do substantial work because of a medical condition; the medical condition must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or to result in death.

A soldier cannot receive disability benefits if he or she is actively working for pay or profit. However, neither active duty status nor military pay, without more, prevents the receipt of benefits. Even if a person is working in a designated therapy program or on limited duty, he or she may be eligible for program benefits. The actual work activity will be the basis for the determination of eligibility.

If a service member remains on active duty while receiving Social Security disability benefits, that individual must contact the SSA if there is a change in his or her:

· Military Occupational Specialty code

· Air Force Specialty Codes

· Navy Enlisted Classification

One should also contact Social Security if there is a permanent change of station move from one duty station to another.

In addition to the service member, some family members also qualify for receipt of benefits. An attorney can provide more information about who is eligible in addition to the military recipient.

The process for applying can still be time-consuming despite the expedited claims procedure available to members of the military. It can also be confusing. Speaking to an experienced lawyer can alleviate your worries about what the process entails. If you have questions or concerns about whether you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, contact an attorney today.